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Climber’s back and ready to rock

Photo courtesy of Mike Podmore Fifteen-year-old Amanda Armijo waves during a climb in autumn 2005. The Yampah Mountain High Schooler fell 40 feet in a climbing accident in November and after a three-month recovery is ready to climb again for a fundraiser on March 22.
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Taking part in a rock-climbing trip in Utah with Yampah Mountain High School in November, 15-year-old Amanda Armijo was on her final climb of the day. It was a hard route to climb, but she didn’t want to give up.”We were on a difficult route, and only two people had done it,” Armijo said. “I didn’t finish it my first time, and then I watched my friend do it and wanted to try again.”Bound and determined, she tried again, but that’s when something went wrong.”I tied into the harness wrong … then I just hopped on without anyone checking,” Armijo said of her second try. “Then I guess something just snapped. I fell 10 feet down and hit a rock shelf, and I think that is when I broke my tailbone. Then I rolled off forward and fell 30 feet and fell onto the road. It was a really scary route and I wanted to come down at the point where I was at. I don’t remember if I was trying to come down or if I just fell.”The 40-foot fall where Armijo plummeted to a dirt-covered, pavement road left her with a cut left eye, a cracked left elbow, bruised ribs and multiple fractures in her pelvis.

Fortunately, there was a pair of doctors climbing on a nearby rock who came down to check on Armijo. An ambulance came and took her to Moab, where she waited for a Flight for Life helicopter, which flew her to St. Mary’s in Grand Junction.”I was in a wheel chair and couldn’t move my legs for a few days. They wouldn’t let me out of the hospital until I could transfer myself into the wheelchair (with a chipped elbow),” Armijo said. “I finally did it, it was hard, but after 12 days they let me go home.”The doctors told her she might not walk for three months, but less than one month later, Armijo proved them wrong.

“I stood up for the first time on a walker on Dec. 5 and took my first steps,” Armijo said.Armijo’s insurance covered a large chunk of her medical bills, but with St. Mary’s fees totaling $40,000 alone, she and her family have been left with $8,000 to cover on their own with more still pouring in. Fellow students at Yampah have organized two fundraisers to help Armijo pay the bills her insurance wouldn’t. The first will take place in the form of a student concert Friday at 7 p.m. at the Blue Acacia Theater at the Masonic Lodge. Tickets are $10 with a suggested donation price of $20 and can be purchased this week at Yampah Mountain High School. There will also be student artwork and food for sale.The second fundraiser will be a student Climb-A-Thon from 1-3 p.m. March 22 at the Colorado Mountain College climbing wall. As of Monday, pledges for the Climb-A-Thon had totaled $2,500 and climbers are hoping for more. Pledges for the Climb-A-Thon and donations can be made out to the Amanda Armijo Medical Fund and dropped of at Yampah Mountain High School or any Alpine Bank. One of the climbers who will participate will be Armijo herself, in her first time back in a harness since her fall.”I just went to the doctor and got the last set of X-rays and got the OK,” Armijo said. “I am nervous, but I am excited. I don’t know what to expect.”Focus and determination helped Armijo recover from what could have been a life-changing or even life-ending injury. They also help her as she scales mountain walls and have netted the same result in each case – a divine since of triumph.



“You have to really focus,” Armijo said of why she loves climbing. “When you’re thinking about school and you’ve got other things on your mind, you just really have to focus. It has so many challenges, and you have to overcome it, and when you get to the top, it feels like you have accomplished something.”

Friday: Student concert at the Blue Acacia Theater at the Masonic Lodge at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 with a suggested donation price of $20 and can be purchased at Yampah Mountain High School. There will also be student artwork and food for sale.Wednesday, March 22: Student Climb-A-Thon at the Colorado Mountain College climbing wall from 1-3 p.m.All proceeds will benefit 15-year-old Amanda Armijo, who suffered multiple injuries including a fractured pelvis in a rock-climbing accident in November. The money will help cover her medical bills.Pledges for the Climb-A-Thon and donations can be made out to the Amanda Armijo Medical Fund and dropped of at Yampah Mountain High School or any Alpine Bank.


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