Best Blogs: Outdoor Junkie November 18, 2008

Ann Driggers climbs the rocks near Elephant Head

Posted by Ann Driggers | Saturday, Nov. 15 at 7:34 p.m.

The rope, more than any other piece of equipment, has played an integral role in my formative years as I developed into a full-fledged outdoor junkie. I first used a rope and learned how to climb at the Westway climbing wall in London, almost 20 years ago. With the A40, one of the largest motorways into London, as its roof, it was a far cry from the majesty of the mountains I was seeking. Desperate as I was to escape the rat race in London, I realized this was the only opportunity I had to learn the art of rope work. And so I did.

At the first opportunity, I moved to the mountains, to Zermatt in Switzerland where I spent one long and incredible summer attached to a rope, mountaineering on alpine greats such as the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa and sport climbing on local crags. Later, the rope even led me to meet my husband when I was hitchhiking to a climbing gym in Jackson Hole, Wyo. And when we ended up in Arizona, many weekends were spent rock climbing in the deserts of the Southwest at places such as Joshua Tree and the Cochise Stronghold.

Since moving to the Grand Valley eight years ago, there have been so many other fun things to do, climbing has not been on my agenda and I count myself as one of those who has lost the art of rope work.

This winter I plan on more technical mountaineering activities. So refreshing my memory on the fundamentals sounded like a fine way to spend a sunny afternoon. My friend and ski partner Pete Harris and I headed out into Colorado National Monument, having identified an easy 5.7 climb that we
could top rope.

Over several hours we set an anchor, practiced the munter hitch, double fisherman’s, autoblocks, figure of eights, and other knots, and finally rappelled 30 meters down a slab into Monument Canyon.

Although the sunny warm rock was a good place to brush out the cobwebs, we will need to head up into the mountains soon to practice under full-on winter conditions. Now, if only the snow gods would get their act together . . . it’s been a slow start to winter in Colorado.

If you’ve seen the Mesa, you’ve probably noticed it’s not the right color.


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