Monday, February 4, 2008

Ragdoll Climbs Moby Dick

There I was; dangling 150 ft above the abyss with a gale force wind tossing me to and fro like a tumbleweed in the dust bowl. I was petrified and all on my own to get to the bottom. Just minutes before Mike had dropped over the edge on rappel with some sage advice for my imminent rappel, but I could barely catch the words through the roar of the wind even though we were barely two feet apart.
I had just stepped over the edge and promptly got my carabiner stuck on the rappel chain link, so I struggled to get my weight off the rappel chains so I could unclip my carabiner and start down. As I was struggling, a NOLS instructor was ascending up his ropes which were anchored next to the chains. He greeted me cheerily as if it were perfectly normal conditions, which comforted me a bit.
The rappel was overhanding but jutted out at the bottom, so I couldn't really see what was down below or how far I had to go. All I knew was that there was a lot of open space between me and the ground. I slowly started lowering myself, but the rope below billowed out to the left I couldn't slip it through the rappel device easily. I started to spin like a ragdoll as often happens on an overhanging rappel. Finally, in desperation to keep the rope from escaping, I wrapped my legs around the rope. This helped me stop spinning and made me feel like the rope wasn't going to blow away.
The climb, called Moby Dick and although quite enjoyable, paled in comparison to the adventure on the descent.
West Cochise Stronghold is notorious for strong winds, especially in the winter time. So if you'd like to have such an adventure, I believe the conditions are often ripe for wind there and would be easy enough to recreate. All you have to do is show up and climb!
The West Stronghold is extremely beautiful though, and there's loads of interesting climbing and adventure to be had. One morning I woke up to this lovely moon setting over the mountains right outside our window.

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