Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tyrolean Traverse or: I've Lost My Damn Mind

Last weekend the staff of the tae kwon do studio that Henry and I practice at, and where I work a few hours a week, had the chance to go on a little team building adventure at Linville Gorge. Being deathly afraid of heights I tried to get the details of the project beforehand, but all I got were vague suggestions of hiking, possible climbing and something about building a bridge. We met in the school parking lot at 8am, met our fearless leader Doc (who thankfully does this for a living) and hopped in a couple of cars to make our way upupup twisty turn-y mountain roads to our destination. Once there, we met our second climbing expert, Jeep, and they split us into teams and started giving instructions.

We were split into three teams of two and three people and explained that we would be building a rope bridge called a Tyrolean Traverse across a gorge, then going across it. This is when I started having heart palpitations. Each team got a specific job and no one team would be taught everything. With each team having a piece of the puzzle we would have to work together to complete the bridge and get safely across. I was put on a team with Tony, the master instructor and 6th degree black belt that runs our tkd school. We were in charge of learning "water knots" and "double fisherman's knots" and using those knots to set up all of the anchor points and belays for the bridge. Yeah.

After practicing for a while, Doc and Jeep did a mock up of the entire bridge and let us study it so we could see how our pieces all fit together.

After we got an idea of what we were going to do, we packed up all the gear and made the mile and change hike (once again upupup) to the gorge we would be building our Tyrolean Traverse across. The gorge was shaped like a horse shoe. We stopped at the bend of the horse shoe to put on all of our safety gear and have more heart palpitations as I looked out on where we would be building.

The distance between 'here' and 'there' is about 50 someodd feet with a drop of 237 feet between. The teams that had been formed on the ground now split up so that a member of each could perform their task on each side of the gorge. I was in charge of setting up anchors and belays 'here'.

Tony, who was responsible for anchors and belays 'there' took this picture of the 'here' team from the other side of the gorge. I get anxiety attacks driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway in a car. I plead temporary insanity.

After setting all the anchors, we figured out how to get the main ropes across so everyone else could do their jobs. It took a while, but we finally got the green light from Doc and Jeep to head on across. Tony went first. You can see how the ends of the horse shoe open up into an amazingly huge and beautiful valley. Jeep is getting ready to buckle him in...

..and off he goes.

Krisy is next.

Elizabeth is completely fearless.

And then it is my turn. Yikes. My language was slightly foul here as I cling to the 'diving board' and Jeep buckles me to the line.

I somehow managed to stop in the middle of the bridge to mug for a photo, but I don't think I have ever been so focused on getting from point A to B in my life. Thank goodness Michael was on the other side to calm my panic and help me back up onto the rock.

Zak and Amy D. went across, too, but we didn't get any shots of them. I'm hoping that once we get Doc's pictures I can add them to the collection. Michael, of course, was a rock star. He made us all nervous by buckling his own safety lines to the bridge and muscling across like he's done it a million times before.

After we were all done and the bridge was disassembled and packed up we all took a couple of deep breaths and posed for a group shot.

I love these guys. For serious.


anniebel said...

Totally Awesome! If that were me I would have needed to bring a extra pair of pants!!!!

Nichole said...

Great googly moogly. I can't even climb the ladder into our attic. You are one bad mofo, lady.