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Weekend Whipper: Ethan Pringle’s Knee Vs. Tree

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Earlier this month, Ethan Pringle was hard at work projecting Carlo Traversi’s Empath (5.15a), which has quickly become one of the more popular hard climbs in the U.S. since Traversi’s first ascent last fall.

On his third day working the rig, Pringle was getting closer and closer. A send seemed imminent. But on his fourth attempt of the day things went sideways.

“I was tired, but still managed to fight my way back up to the last draw,” Pringle wrote on Instagram. “I found myself in the same position, and I knew I might fall, but I didn’t want to grab the draw again [as he had done on the prior burn when a hold unexpectedly crumbled]. I was improvising with my feet, entering flail-mode. I lost a little tension, and my foot skated. I spun away from the wall as I fell for about 20 feet before my legs (mostly my left shin) landed right on a big tree-branch, and snapped it off at its base. I was in pretty extreme pain, and extreme shock.”

Pringle lowered all the way to the ground and spent the next 5 minutes waiting for “the shock to wear off.”

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The tree branch he broke off with his knee? “It was about ten feet long, and about 3-4 inches in diameter at the base. It’s astonishing my shin bone didn’t break in half.”

And how badly had he injured his leg? Though at first he was worried he might have done some serious damage, three weeks later he was back on the route.

“I’m astonished, and super grateful, that my knee has already healed enough from my MCL sprain to climb again without pain, or even hardly any discomfort,” Pringle wrote on Instagram on May 26. “If someone would have told me the day after my accident that this would be the case, I would not have believed them.”

Glad you’re on the up and up, Ethan. Looking forward to hearing about a send soon 💪

Happy Friday and climb safe this weekend!