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Conquering the Climb and the Rappel

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Written By Nick Miller
Photos By Kelly Smith

 

Conquering the Climb

On a warm July morning,

the United By Blue team, along with three Valley to Summit guides, convened with a small group of adventurers in the Ralph Stover State Park. We gathered that Sunday morning in the dusty, and aptly named, High Rocks parking lot, to begin a long and exciting day of climbing and rappelling.


After some brief introductions, we got ourselves harnessed up, with the help of our knowledgeable guides, and set out on a ten minute hike to the climbing area. After a pleasant walk through the wooded path, overlooking the Tohickon River, we arrived at our destination. We stopped behind a fence, six feet back from the “climbing area,” which was actually a cliff edge, with a 110 foot straight drop along a perilous facade of sheer rock face.

Our guides hopped the fence and each clipped into one of their dozens of carabiners that were constantly jangling around their waist. They gave another talk on safety as they paced back and forth, skirting the edge of the cliff with nonchalance that can only come from years of experience.



...as you lowered yourself into the unknown.



And then it was our turn. The first volunteer from the group hopped over and was hooked into the lines that were bolted into the rock a few feet back from the edge. As we all watched from behind the fence, our first volunteer was directed to walk backwards towards the cliff edge until his heels were no longer on solid ground. This was described by other participants as “the scariest part of the entire trip,” as you lowered yourself into the unknown.

 

rapelling the edge

 


We spent the morning taking turns navigating our way up, following the cracks and crevices in the weathered walls.


 

andy climbing
chey climbing

 

jen climbing

 

While half the group rappelled their way down the wall, one by one, the other half walked the steep winding path down to the base. Upon reaching it, our UBB adventure guide, Steve, hooked us into another line and sent us climbing back up the wall. We spent the morning taking turns navigating our way up, following the cracks and crevices in the weathered walls.

After mastering our first wall, we grabbed a quick bagged lunch and attacked a few more walls along the path, until late afternoon when everyone was exhausted. Looking back, participant Chey Coats said that she “enjoyed when we were all together and were able to support each person, as a group.” All in all the trip was a success, and we hope you’ll join us at our next one!

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nicole climbing

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