Today a group of us gathered at Weaver’s Point, a 185-ft bluff rappel with quite a bit of exposure. It’s a place we go to introduce new people to having a big view (rather than rappelling into a dark hole), and it provides a nice length free of walls to do various weighted rappels or just simply “bounce rope” going down and up many times in a row.
In particular today, us VBATS® (long rope rappel team) members were out there training for El Capitan expedition trip this summer. El Cap is a half mile rappel. One 3000-ft long rope. All one shot. This isn’t a rock climber’s route, this is the Single Rope route. It take a lot of unique training and experience to be able to deal with 200+ pounds of rope weight at the top, narrowing down to zero at the bottom. Special techniques, special gear, special training. Fewer people have EVER done the SRT route (climb and rappel) at El Cap than climb Mt Everest *every year*. That’s how rare and highly specialized this is.
So today, we keep training. This lip has air underneath it, so it really is 185-ft of open air rappelling. It’s finally spring with buds on the trees and it was a nice balmy 70-deg Fahrenheit (about 20C) with a breeze, so climbing didn’t get too hot.
We had a haul system rigged up similar to how it will be at El Cap. Rigging in with 200+ pounds of weight with a lip to pass is impossible, so a haul line is set to pull up slack to get over the lip. After the lip is crossed, weight is returned and then there is a haul line to pass on rappel. Lots of us did weighted rappels, some people bounced rope to work on climbing, and all had good fun.