Date of Surgeries: 2/20/2018 and 3/8/2018
Tibia and Fibula Fracture
Update (7/2018): Paul is still undergoing rehabilitation, but plans to return to guiding full-time very soon.
I grew up in a small town in Southeastern Iowa. I left the day I turned 18, seeking adventure, and eventually landed in Jackson Hole. There, I learned to ski and climb and made the decision to lead a life that worshipped mountains and held dear the challenge they present. Since then, mountains have taken me all over North America, from the Alaska Range and Canadian Rockies to the Dragoon Mountains along the US-Mexico border. Shortly after my accident, I moved to the Front Range of Colorado, where I look forward to exploring the Southern Rockies.
My outdoor career began at NOLS in 2009 where I worked as a climbing, mountaineering and ski course leader for seven years. With NOLS, I worked primarily in Western Wyoming but also traveled to the Pacific Northwest, Western Colorado, Red Rocks and Cochise Stronghold. I began training with the AMGA in 2012 and completed the IFMGA Mountain Guide Certification in 2016. During that time I balanced NOLS work with guiding stints for the American Alpine Institute on Denali, Jackson Hole Mountain Guides and Teton Backcountry Guides. I now work as Lead Winter Guide, Avalanche Program Coordinator and Colorado Branch Manager for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, as well as a Lead Guide at Rainier Mountaineering Incorporated.
Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan
I sustained a pilon fracture of my tibia and fibula which required emergency surgery to stabilize, two weeks after which I was back in the hospital and my right leg was further stabilized with 22 screws and two plates. I was immobilized in a cast for 6 weeks before I was ordered into a removable cast and started physical therapy. Four weeks after that, I started bearing weight in a walking cast, and began walking without a cast or crutches thirteen weeks out from my second surgery. It was a slow process, largely to due to the severity of the initial fracture, but I have full range of motion in my ankle sixteen weeks out from surgery and expect full recovery once my tibia is completely healed.
"The Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation turned my career-threatening injury into a road bump. For a full-time mountain guide, being broken is difficult enough without having to balance financial pressure with time spent recovering. Support from the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation provided me with the resources to focus on the long, painful and exhausting healing process and ensured I received the best care for my body."
- Paul Rachele