The time a nut went through my friends ear…. (Warning: photos w blood)

Matt: “Hey Anna, do you have some extra water?”

Anna: “Yeah sure, help yourself.”

Matt: “Thanks! Steve is bleeding everywhere and we need some water to wash him off.”


We were out climbing one weekend with my friend Steve who was stoked on bolting this heinous overhanging sport route.

Steve was placing traditional protection to keep him close enough to the wall to bolt on rappel.  Being a sport route, he was having difficulty finding good placements.
He eventually managed to place his smallest offset nut in a crumbly, flaring slot.

He clipped his daisy to the nut,

Weighted it,

And…It held!


Steve told me later he didn’t hear or feel anything when it happened:

Apparently he was reaching over for the drill clipped to the side of his harness when suddenly his body was in the air, swinging away from the wall.
And his ear felt really… wet?
He reached up, touched it, and his hand came back covered in blood.

“Uh, guys…” he yelled down, “I think I might have ripped my ear off?”

steves ear

Steve’s ear after some cleaning up

It turns out the nut had had so much tension on it that, when it blew, it shot out at my friend’s head like a bullet.  It hit Steve’s earlobe, and the force of it literally exploded his ear, tearing a hole clean through.

(It had so much force it didn’t just go through the ear but also hit the back of his head and left a contusion:

back of steves ear

Where the nut hit the back of Steve’s ear!

 Steve was fine: a friend packed his ear with a bunch of gauze and we climbed the rest of the day.  He probably would have just gone home after too, but I talked him into seeing a doctor—he got a tetanus shot and 4 stitches in the front AND back of his ear.

(7 days later he made me remove the stitches so he didn’t have to go back to the doctors. After watching a few how-to videos on youtube–yes, apparently there are instruction vids on how to remove stitches from an ear–I took them out using the light of my head lamp, nail scissors and tweezers)

Things Steve Learned:
According to him—nothing.  Quote: “Shit happens.”

 Things I learned:

  • Ears bleed a lot.
  • A first aid kit at the crag is handy
  • You can only get stitches within a certain time period after an accident, so if you think you may need them, don’t wait for tomorrow!
  • If you miss removing a stitch your body will push it out on its worries!  (it can also cause an abscess…check with your dr.)

(If you’re interested, YouTube link on how to remove ear stitches: )

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