Mt Charleston Ropes Challenge September 2007

Skip set up a day for us (Trailblazers and Meet Up hiking groups) to go play on the Mt. Charleston Ropes Challenge Course.  This course is sometimes used as a corporate team building event.  They plan activities that help people get to know each other and activities that are more easily completed when you depend on someone else.

Since we already knew each other in our hiking groups we told them to cut the warm up games that get you to know each other and move right to the meet of the course.  We were there just to have fun.

The course is a set of personal challenges that occur about 35 feet off the ground.  For each event you climb a pole and complete your task.  You wear a harness at all times that is attached to a rope that will catch you if you fall.  After you complete your task you are lowered to the ground.

My first event was to climb a pole, step onto a cable stretched from that pole to another about 40 feet away.  Then I was to cross the cable on my feet using a series of 3 ropes hanging down along the way to hold my self up.  These ropes were set about 8 feet apart and were hanging from a cable above me.  I found this event got my blood flowing a bit.  I could not tell of my legs were shaking from the adrenalin or from the cable being wobbly under me.  I figure it was a combination of both, but am unsure which one was the major cause.

Luke reaching for the first rope.
Luke reaching for the first rope.

Luke reaching for the second rope.
Luke reaching for the second rope.

Luke ready to be let down from the first event.
I am ready to be let down from the first event.

My second event was to climb up a pole that had two cables tied to it.  These two cables went about 40 across to a plat form and were about 8 feet apart at the plat form so they got farther an farther apart as they went from pole to plat form.  I had to get on one of the cables and wait for my partner (Doug in this case) to join me and get on the other cable.  We then had to cross from one side to the other, each on our own cable.  For balance we were to hold hands and use each other.  The farther apart the cables get the more you lean into each other.  It was an eye opening experience.  You really think you know what the other person is going through because you are there with them.  Turns out, YOU DO NOT!  About half way across Doug starts yelling to me to push.  I leaned into him and found he stabilized right away.  I discovered that even though I was in it with him and felt all the jiggling and off balance I still could not tell we he was off balance.  This seems like I should have already known this.  I started thinking about how much of our lives we spend with other people and have absolutely no clue what they are going through.  We think we do because we are right there with them.  But in reality we have no idea what they are feeling.  Later I started to fall and needed Doug to push to me.  I still had not learned my lesson.  I tried and tried to get my balance but was almost ready to fall off.  I finally yelled to Doug "Push, Push"!  He did and I immediately stabilized.  Doug could not feel what I was going through even though he was part of it.  I needed to communicate with him.  this was a big eye opening event for me.  We made it across and were let down with a successful mission behind us. 

Doug joines me for the second event.  Time to dance.
Doug joins me for the second event. Time to dance.

Half way across.  Still dancing.
Half way across. Still dancing.

A victory high five.
A victory high five.

Being let down from the second event.
Being let down from the second event.

After that we took a break for lunch.  We grilled some meats and ate while talking about what we had done.  Then it was back to the course.  My third event was the swings or islands.  This was a series of plat forms similar to rough pallets that were suspended by ropes from two cable above.  Each plat form was about 4.5 or 5 feet apart.  The object was to get from swing to swing and make it to the other side then come back the same way.  Once on a plat form you could not reach the next one.  The only way to get to it was to hang out by one arm.  The challenge for me was to trust that I would not fall if I leaned way out even if I missed the next swing.  To not fall I only had to not let go with the hand behind me.  In order to reach the next swing I had to get the arm behind me to straighten out.  For some reason this was hard for me to do.  Once I finally got over the idea of stretching out and trusting my grip I was fine.  This event a lot of people said was pretty easy.  For some reason I found it the most mentally challenging. 

Lunch break.
Lunch break.

Here I am trying out the swing event.
Here I am trying out the swing event.

More swings.
More swings.

More swings.
More swings.

More swings.
More swings.

My third event was what they called the leap of faith.  It was said to be difficult because it created a lot of fear.  I found no problem with this event whatsoever.  I climbed the pole and stood upright on top of it.  there was no platform, no cables, no nothing.  It was simply a telephone pole about 35 feet tall that I had to climb up and stand on the top of.  About 8 feet out in front of me was a rubber chicken hanging from a rope.  I had to leap from the top of the pole and grab the chicken as I fell.  After I got the chicken I was caught by my safety line and was lowered to the ground.

Getting harnesed up to do the Leap of Faith.
Getting harnesed up to do the Leap of Faith.

Climbing the pole.
Climbing the pole.

The leap for the rubber chicken.
The leap for the rubber chicken.

Grabbing the rubber chicken!
Grabbing the rubber chicken!

My forth and final event was the cat walk.  There were more events but we ran out of time.  The cat walk was just a log about 40 feet long that I was to walk like a balance beam.  Melanie had done it blind folded after being talked into by Kason who had also done it blind folded.  She told me I should try it.  My immediate response was "No, I can't do that".  Then I got to thinking, what is the worst that can happen.  I could fall off and be caught by a rope and lowered to safety.  I decided to try it.  I was a bit nervous climbing the pole blind folded and trying to figure out how to get onto the log.  I managed to do so just fine.  The hardest part was letting go of the upright pole at the start of the log.  I managed to walk the log fine to about 75% of the way across and started to fall.  I caught myself with my safety line and got back on the log.  Then I finished the balancing act.  It felt good to do that, but it was definitely a moment where you are very alone!  You are with yourself and only yourself when you are doing that.  It was very worth while.

Walking the Cat Walk blind folded.
Walking the Cat Walk blind folded.

Walking the Cat Walk blind folded.
Walking the Cat Walk blind folded.

I would be happy to have the opportunity to try this course out again some day and do some of the events we did not have time to do.