How NOT to rappel

Turns out that rappelling is not like riding a bike.

When you let about 20 years pass between your rappelling adventures…well, one’s brain, hands, and feet could benefit from a short refresher course.

I thought, Oh, I’ve done this a couple of times. No big deal. I took a deep breath and leaned backwards off the side of the rocks. Everything was alright for a little while. See?

That’s me rappelling. (Allow me to explain that I’m wearing a couple of layers of clothing, a huge pullover, and a ski mask. It was pretty cold and windy that day. I’m not actually that big of a person. Plus, I’ve heard that a camera can add like 20 pounds. Oh, it’s just video cameras that do that? Well, my camera shoots video.)

But then there came a gap between the rocks, and I didn’t think ahead for what to do with my feet. One wrong move and

My real problem came when I fell just a few feet below the ledge that you can see in the picture. I hung upside-down/sideways for a few minutes before I found a thin tree root to grab and help myself up. (I wish the scout with my camera had gotten a few more shots of me upside down, but I think my predicament freaked him out a little.) The moss slid off the rocks making it difficult to get my footing, but I did it. Then, it was safely to the ground I went.

Benjamin said he was glad he had already gone back to camp so that he missed his mother’s adventure. He said he probably would have been really scared if he had seen me dangling upside down against the side of rock. Aww, isn’t that sweet?

Though I probably should have, I never felt fear. I completely trusted the ropes and the men on either end to hold me up (they are serious about safety). I only doubted my arms’ abilities to lift myself up. This experience/embarrassment told me a few things: 1) I need more adventures, 2) I need to rebuild muscle tone, and 3) the scoutmasters for Ben’s troop are excellent at tying knots.

Benjamin had a great first-time rappelling experience. I spent about an hour lashed to a tree that was growing in the side of the rocks — which I’m sure contributed to my fatigue before I decided to rappel — so that I could take pictures of the scouts as they descended. I took some great shots as I hugged that tree!

He looks a little scared in the above picture. Healthy fear.

He handled that gap better than his momma.

“I did it! And I’m alive!” I’m proud of him for overcoming his fear and doing something he’s never done before.

I just hope he doesn’t let 20 years go by before he does it again!

5 Comments on “How NOT to rappel

  1. I love the close-up of Ben, and it was sweet of him to be scared for you. I enjoyed reading of your adventures.


  2. I went rappelling when I was 9 years old and loved it. When I was in college, I surprised everyone in my WOW group by volunteering to go first to rappel off the campus library. That was over 20 years ago! I don’t know if I could do it now, but it really is a fun sport.

    Great pictures! I can’t believe that you hung onto a tree to get the shot! I would have liked to see a picture of that!


    • Yes, lots of fun! I’m pretty sure the scoutmaster on the ground took a picture of me. I need to ask him to email it to me.


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