r By Deborah Goodman
A puff of climbing chalk is the only thing accompanying the silent, expert movements of Springville resident, Brian Koralewski. His fingers grip the rivets in the boulder he is climbing as he maneuvers, stretching his right arm as far out in front of him as possible to be able to secure himself. And then, the unthinkable happens. A huge chunk of rock breaks free in his hands and Koralewski plummets seven feet to the ground.
The fall in Little Rock Canyon on July 29 was captured on video by a camera that Koralewski had set up to document the bouldering. The video has since gone viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and being picked up by dozens of Web sites and magazines.
As harrowing as the fall was, Koralewski’s journey home was perhaps even more so. After pushing the chunk of rock, which weighed at least 300 pounds, off of his leg, he left the fortuitously placed climbing pads he landed on and limped and crab-walked to make his way down. As his wife, Cami, describes it, it wasn’t a simple walking path. “You (have to) go through brush and scramble over small boulders.” Although he thought he could see bone through a several inches long gash in his lower right leg (it was later revealed to be tendon), he was encouraged by the fact that there wasn’t much blood.
“With the exception of maybe the first two minutes after impact, I attest that the pain I have had previously with kidney stones was worse,” Koralewski says.
After a timely phone call from Cami, in which he assured her he could get home by himself—not wanting to wait an hour for someone to rescue him—and after eschewing an offer for a ride home from a stranger, he finally made it the hospital, where surgery on a broken fibula and damaged tendon, and a three day stay, seemed to close a chapter on the ordeal.
Even though Koralewski, a climber with 20 years of experience without any notable injuries until now, is fully recovered, news of his fall has reached far and wide. The video only had about 500 views the first few months; however, when a fellow climber urged him to submit his story and video to Rock & Ice Magazine and it was published on their “Weekend Whipper” page, Climbing Magazine, Deadspin, Popular Mechanics, and dozens of other Web sites picked it up as well. Local Fox 13 News showed up at his door one evening in December while he was making dinner and asked for an interview; Local KUTV 2 News did the same a few days later. The rights to the video have since been acquired by Jukin Media, which offered a small signing bonus that would help pay for, according to Koralewski, “about 1/25th“of his medical bills.
Although Koralewski says he’s “now more cognizant of the danger and more skeptical of the quality of the rock” on the climbs he considers doing, he is back to his former schedule of climbing five to ten hours a week. He climbs because he feels it helps him balance his life and provides an outlet for stress. Koralewski says that it “requires your complete focus during the moment you’re on the rock. You can’t worry about anything else at that moment;” therefore, he is anxious to put this experience out of his mind, especially while he is bouldering. However, “there are and will be rocks I won’t climb now because my former sense of unending luck is now gone.” And, he will always be reminded of it since his video can be found so many places online.
You can learn more about his experiences by visiting Bkclimbing.wordpress.com.