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On June 17th, Brandon Frohbieter climbed about 12 feet up an autobelay route when he decided it looked fun and he wanted to try it. He wasn’t clipped in yet. He jumped down and was impaled by a pvc pipe. The pvc pipe was there to hold up plastic ‘fencing,’ since adjacent to the route he was on routesetting was underway.
Brandon explains: “I was at the gym and rocking around on an autobelay route. I went up a little bit off the ground and it was pretty sweet so I was gonna hop down and actually go up the route. I looked down my right shoulder, and I just saw the ground, so I just kind of dropped from the wall. I was probably about 12 feet off the ground and I just landed down straight on that pipe. I started screaming at the top of my lungs. I thought up until the moment it happened I was just expecting to hit the ground…And I had no idea what happened. I just knew that I was in excruciating pain. And something terrible had happened. And I couldn’t really feel my bottom half and I knew blood was pooling around.”
Frohbieter, of Gig Harbor, Washington, was evacuated to a nearby ER, where imaging revealed that his extensive injuries included a fractured sacrum, coccyx, tibial plateau, and burst T7 vertebrae. Brandon had been climbing for around three years. His primary climbing partner was his wife’s brother, Tom.
“I focused mostly on traditional climbing,” he said. “I’m a modest climber. I’d probably more be in the trad-dad bucket of climbing.”
As per usual, a brouhaha began on Mountain Project after Frohbieter’s posted about his accident, with some offering support and well wishes, but many calling the accident a hoax and requesting “proof.” Others, meanwhile, took to lambasting both Frohbieter and climbing gym, or both, for the injury. Brandon, however, has only good things to say about the gym and the gym owner. “It’s the dark side of the sport,” he said, “it’s the risk and the consequence.”
Brandon’s road to recovery will be long. On a GoFundMe set up by his sister, it reads:
“The last two months for the Frohbieter Family have been extremely difficult emotionally and financially. Brandon’s wife of 12 years, is a counselor and has had to greatly limit her working hours to care for Brandon. Their 11 year old son, is often having to stay with other family members due to the level of suffering and difficulty of care for Brandon at home. A software developer at a catastrophe modeling company for the last 6 years, it is not certain when Brandon can to return to work.”
Two days ago, he decided to auction off his climbing gear on Mountain Project, and reported that he can no longer walk without an assistive device. He also suffers from severe rectal spasms, in addition to neuropathic problems with his bowel and bladder.
What comes next?
“Actually had someone reached out to me about the adaptive community and they said the adaptive community was ready to welcome you. And, you know, I hope to get back to full recovery. And I know it’s gonna be a while…Of course. I’m heartbroken.”
Please everyone, let’s donate. Brandon did have medical insurance. He shared a copy of his medical expenses with us, and the bills are astronomical.
>>>>>Go Fund Me HERE.
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