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Rock Climbing, Abseiling & Canyoning

Rock Hard | Footage Shows the Moment a Boulderer Falls and Pulls a 300-Pound Rock Down on Top of Him

“Looking down, I saw what I thought was my bone - it was actually my tendon showing.”

Photo: Brian Koralewski/YouTube Screenshot

You’re bouldering. Specifically, you’re bouldering in Little Rock Canyon in Utah. What a lovely place to be bouldering. Lucky you.

And lucky is exactly how you’re feeling as well. You’ve already smashed through a couple of bouldering problems in the great outdoors and you’ve just spotted yourself a beautiful big boulder that fits your criteria. It’s an established V6 and it’s next in line.

You slowly make your way up the boulder, one move at a time, not taking anything too fast, then hey, presto, 30 seconds later you’ve smashed it. Unfortunately, we don’t mean ‘you’ve smashed it’ in the ‘hey, you completed that pretty quickly!’ way, though.

We mean you’ve literally smashed the boulder. You almost made the top and then accidentally pulled off a 300 pound rock on the final move… and it has landed on top of you.

The damage one week after the fall… Photo: Brian Koralewski

You smashed the rock. You have quite possibly smashed your bones. Unfortunately you did not smash the route, and it doesn’t look an awful lot like the route really exists anymore. Ouch.

This is the nightmare scenario experienced boulderer Brian Koralewski faced earlier this year – and the footage, below, makes for ominous watching:

The climber, who writes about the experience in detail on his blog, highlights how his friend had climbed the boulder only a couple of months before, and says:

“The low point of the rock breakage is about 10 feet high. The rock weighs approximately 300 lbs. I must have lucked out and got an indirect, partial impact of the rock. The falling weight/force of the rock on impact was about 3300 lbs.”

Brian in hospital. Photo: Brian Koralewski

Still, he wasn’t that lucky. He was able to hike back to his car – though it took 25 minutes when it would normally take five (and obviously only because he’s hard as nails) – and drive out to get care, but only with a sustained broken fibula, laceration requiring six stitches, a partial tear of a tendon and scrapes and bruises for his efforts.

We imagine he was feeling that one for weeks if not months to come.

“Looking down, I saw what I thought was my bone – it was actually my tendon showing.”

Koralewski: “I landed on my pads, and quickly moved the rock off of my lower leg. After a minute of intense pain, I gathered my thoughts and realized that the remaining pain was all concentrated in my lower leg. Looking down, I saw what I thought was my bone – it was actually my tendon showing.

“I then tried to stand up to see if I had any broken bones. It didn’t hurt any worse to stand. I packed up my pads and belongings and started to make my way down to the trail. I quickly realized that I was more hurt than I thought and that bringing my stuff was not viable.”

The blood after the fall. Photo: Brian Koralewski

Koralewski underwent surgery and his leg was looking pretty gnarly for weeks following the incident. You can see plenty of images of his condition after the fall over on his blog. They don’t make for the most pleasant viewing!

After 3 weeks… Photo: Brian Koralewski

He was climbing alone, but while we’re sure he’s learned a lot from this, we’re happy to hear he planned to continue to climb even after the accident.

After 5 weeks… Photo: Brian Koralewski

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