“But I Am a Mortal and Liable to Fall!”

Dear G.,

 

Believe I have that right, G. Know who said that? You’ve read more than I have, but I remember reading that as a kid, or was it in a movie? Around Christmas time, if that helps.

 

In the situation I am going to talk about though, I want to fall.  It is the rate of fall I am concerned about and how to stop and start it up again.

 

Randy’s bailout demo got me to thinking. How do you practice? I mean it’s one of those things you have to get right the first time. Like parachuting, you can’t say, “Better luck next time!”

 

I mentioned that I wanted to rappel to some members of our group. “What group?” someone might ask. Not a formal outfit where you raise your right hand and join, nothing like that. It is just people who would rather live than die, and would prefer to prosper and be happy than to be miserable.

 

I believe I have found the answer,, to practicing without getting hurt, I mean. A friend of Randy’s showed me a setup for safely experimenting without hurting more than your dignity. He showed me a setup in his garage. Just an anchor rope on a rafter hanging down and coiled into a kind of gym bag. His takeoff point is a step ladder! For a landing area, in case he miscalculates, he has two bulky sleeping bags, folded up to soften the impact of a possible fall.

 

“Possible fall?” I asked him.

 

“Well, believe it or not I’ve never needed them, so far, but it’s nice to have them there.” He showed me an array of descenders, each in a plastic bag. “I like to keep my gear clean,” he explained, “It helps to keep grit off my ropes.”

 

Then he showed me a journal, which contained the results of his experiments so far. It was a cloth bound ledger. On the left page he had written, under “descender”,  the device he had used, and the rope it was used with. In the right column he had listed the results of his trials.

 

“People might laugh at my six foot descents,” he said, “but you can learn a lot this way, and not get hurt.”

 

Have to admit, G., this man’s approach made a lot of sense to me. You know from my previous letter that bailing out is on my mind. So far I have only read about it, but there is a time to put theory into practice.

 

When my new friend saw my interest he asked, “Want to give it a try?” I hesitated.  I really am the cautious type. But after I said yes, he looked into his journal and asked, “How much do you weigh?” I told him about one hundred fifty, and he made a selection.  “Omega, large, four turns blue #101.”

 

A neighbor looked into the garage from his driveway. “What are you getting ready to do, hang yourselves?”

 

“Just the opposite,” my friend replied. “ Isn’t it time for you to watch television?”

 

Karl