An Afternoon of Climbing Firsts

We recently were able to try out a few new tools and techniques in the climbing realm.  We had planned on heading out to Lower Hidden Rocks and climbing for the afternoon.  Due to a career fair taking longer than expected, Melissa and I met Josh and Jackie at the rocks a bit too late to do much in the way of real climbing.  Luckily, the days are getting longer, we had all packed our headlamps, and we knew the trail pretty well.

The first exciting bit was that Melissa, Jackie, and Josh all got to try out new pieces of equipment.  Jackie was sporting her new pair of climbing shoes, and used them to great effect on Bucketland, rated a solid 5.4.  It was also the first time Jackie had used her new harness, a Black Diamond Primrose, on an outdoor climb.  Jackie reports that the harness is very comfortable.  We all were able to test out Josh’s new toy, a brand new 60 m climbing rope.  We had more than enough rope to rig both Bucketland and Warm Up Crack on one rope using a giant “M” configuration.

 

Melissa was also excited to try out her brand new harness, a very pretty Petzl Luna.  We got it on sale in Charlottesville; they were selling several types of harnesses at Blue Ridge Mountain Sports for 40% off.  The Luna usually goes for about $70.  You do the math, we got it for a steal.  She was able to send Bucketland with no problems.  In fact, because I happened to be up on top of the rock getting ready to rig a rappel, we were even able to get a great picture her at the summit!  Melissa reports that the Luna is very comfortable, and is actually more comfortable while climbing than it was when she was testing it out at the store.  Hmmmm…I wonder if I could get her to do a guest post in the “Gear I Swear By” section?

I love this shot...Love the rock Melissa!

Finally, I was able to try something that I’ve always wanted to do.  There is a technique called Tandem Rappelling.  It is used when a climber has been trapped or injured in such a way that he or she cannot rappel down by themselves.  Basically, two people hang on one rappel device.  I’ve wanted to do it for a while, and decided to give it a shot.  I learned several things:

1:  Tandem rappelling works.

2.  It is better to use short runners. Josh and I ended up hanging way below our belay device.

3.  Two guys tandem rappelling looks…ahem…questionable. At least, our wives said so!  But I’ll let you judge based on the picture.

 

This isn't what it looks like, I swear!

(Incidentally, I think that’s one of the first pictures of me to appear in a blog post…).  We hiked out by headlamp.  A very satisfying day.

 

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About Ethan Zook

I'm 27, and happily married to a pretty girl named Melissa with a little boy named Elijah. From the Shenandoah Valley, currently hanging out in Richmond, VA. I love exploring the wild places around the area. I write two blogs; Mountain Ramblings is about my personal explorations in the mountains and valleys that I live around. In Mountain Rescue Blog, I write about issues faced by rescuers in mountain environments both locally and around the world.
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