Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Date Posted:  06/01/2011
Modified:  07/28/2014
Date Climbed:   05/31/2011
Author:  Taillon75

 Broken Leg  

My girlfriend and I decided to climb Mt.Yale (standard route) on tuesday. It was snowing monday night but the weather said it would be clear on tuesday. We camped out and hit the Denny Creek trailhead at 06:00. After a short period of time we encountered the snow. It was early so we easily walked on top of it without snowshoes. It was hard to find the trail as we neared treeline, but we diverted a bit to the west and used the snowfields to gain the lower ridge. My girlfriend opted to wait it out here and I continued to the summit. I climbed the snowfield with crampons/ice axe just to the right of the switchbacks and gained the saddle. From there it was an easy scramble up to the summit. I reached the top at 12:20. I ate, took some pictures and headed back down 25 minutes later. I decided to return down the snowfield from the saddle. While sitting atop the snowfield pondering whether to glissade or not, I lost traction and started to slide. I was able to quickly stop but the force of the slide caused my right crampon to get hung up. It seemed pretty harmless but when my right crampon caught it snapped my Fibula with an audible crack. I was hoping it was a sprain but unfortunately I could feel the bones move. I knew it was broke. I felt like an idiot. It was almost 1:00 and the only three other climbers had already decended. The weather was still clear so I decided to get lower to where my girlfriend was waiting. After hopping and sliding my way down to the lower ridge I reached my girlfriend at 1:30. She was startled but kept her composure. We immediately splinted the leg with a smaller ice axe. I always carry a good first aid kit. I felt I could walk so we headed back to the tree line where we had left our trekking poles and snowshoes. Luckily it didn't take to long to glissade down the couple of smaller snow fields. We secured our gear, drank water and headed out. We were able to get down to the lower valley without snowshoes. Once there we had to put on snowshoes. The sun had turned the easily travelled hard packed snow into mush. We went non-stop until we reached the trailhead at 5:05. Luckily my girlfriend carried all the hardware but I did manage to loose one of my Atlas snowshoes. We were pretty exhausted but glad to be down. We drove to the ER in Leadville. I got X-rays and shortly thereafter I was discharged with a walking boot. Luckily it was a clean break so it should be a quick recovery.
All in all it was a great trip. The conditions were good but I made a dumb mistake that could have been much worse.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

06/02/2011 01:43
Did that route solo two days prior, and now I'm questioning that decision. You never know what can go wrong up there...I hope you have a speedy recovery, man.


06/02/2011 01:47
Wow! Could have been much worse. I'm glad your okay and made it back to the TH without further injury. I've always wondered what I would do if that happened to me. I guess staying calm and loosing some elevation are the obvious answers.


Tougher than me
06/02/2011 01:49
Wow - to walk all that way with a broken leg. I don't think I want to be that tough! You are even smiling in the shot of you with the ax/splint. Pretty amazing.


Tough as Nails
06/02/2011 02:41
Can't believe you walked out, ice axe splint or not. Glad you were able to get out before night fall. That would have been miserable.


Thanks guys.
06/02/2011 02:50
It helped that my girlfriend was there. Got lucky on this one. Be back in the fall.I wasnt smiling either. I was gritting my teeth. I called that mountain every dirty name in the book.


06/02/2011 03:42
yeah i agree you got lucky on this one, but you are tough as nails too. Good job walking out on a broken leg, something to tell the grandkids some day that is for sure!


04/02/2015 19:45
That mountain is a treacherous one. I slipped and fell on it in the fall, banging my knee pretty badly. It took months to heal! Hope you'll have a quick recovery. Sorry to hear about the leg.


Could not imagine!
06/02/2011 08:20
kudos to you & your girlfriend. outstanding!

I summitted on Saturday - and could not imagine descending in that mush with a broken leg. heal fast!

D Potter

07/29/2014 03:40
Your stor makes me wonder how life must have been like for gold prospectors 150 years ago... So many of these 14ers have mining ruins and evidence of survival in harsh environments. No ER trips in cars... No girl friends waiting w trecking poles & no first aid kits... No xray equipment. Your story instills a bit of healthy fear in all of us readers. Wow... What a story.

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