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306 Fall Creek Falls Rock Climbing Workshop Nov10 2010-11-12

Climbing at Fall Creek Falls

Last weekend was the Fall Rock Climbing Workshop at Fall Creek Falls State Park. For fifteen or so years I had helped my friend Ranger Ray with the Workshop; but in recent years I had let the instructor work slide to some of the younger climbers. It was fun for me to be a part of the program again.

The group met on Friday evening to learn the introductory materials. They learned to tie an overhand knot, a figure eight knot, a figure eight follow through knot, a clove hitch, and the famous bowline. There were variations of each knot and the practice took a few hours.

Fall Creek Falls Rock Climbing

Just when they were completely confused as to whether the bowline scratched their belly or their arm pit, we stopped and diverted their attention to belaying. Belaying is the art of handling the rope to lessen or increase the distance of a fall to provide optimum safety. They slipped, slapped, and slide their hands along the rope as they practiced belaying. Ropes were flying everywhere. Charlotte, herself could not have spun a better web. Not many of the belayers really figured out the proper procedures; but they would the next day on the cliffs (with help from the instructors.)

Fall Creek Falls Rock Climbing

Saturday morning was cool and the sun soon left the northeast facing cliff. The cold rock seemed to grow colder as the hours passed.

The leaders acted as if climbing in cold weather, when your hands are frozen useless, was normal and everyone in the class tried their hand at the sport. It was fun to watch them try to climb; but you knew their hands were frozen. Eventually a rappel line was set and there was some yahoo-ing by the participating rappellers.

Fall Creek Falls Rock Climbing

That evening we met at Ray's for the cookout. An AmeriCorp group working in the Park also joined us. There was some mighty good food thanks to Ray for the burgers and Paula for the chili. Paula even made a special pot of vegetarian chili. I don't know why anyone would eat any other kind - it was that good. (You know, I think it was that Hungarian Paprika.)

Nick and Ed entertained us for the rest of the evening. It was a good time.

Fall Creek Falls Rock Climbing

I had to leave the next day and could not stay for the Sunday Session; but I was glad to have been able to join them for half of the weekend.

Rock climbing might not be the activity of choice for everyone and it is definitely not necessary for everyone to conform to it's vices; but, outdoor recreation is important in today's 'sit in the cubicle all day world.' In climbing, practice truly makes the climber perfect - or at least makes the climber better. The person who enjoys climbing soon begins to change their diet to more nutritional eating habits, their fitness level by exercising more, and will also try to get out and climb more often. Success in climbing is a pretty simple formula: better nutrition + better fitness + practice = better climbing. There are not too many obese, out of shape, rock climbers.

Rock climbing has been a life long skill and recreational pursuit for me. If hanging from a ledge doesn't appeal to you, look at some of the other forms of outdoor recreation: trail running, kayaking, mountain bike riding, road cycling, caving, hiking, backpacking, etc. If you are married, find something you can do as a family. Look for an endeavor that you enjoy and then try to get better.

Happy climbing trails


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