Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nearly Killed My BTF
(Best Teacher Friend)

Jess hatched a brilliant egg and decided that between school meetings and back-to-school night, we should go climbing. We rounded up two other willing participants (let's call them Jane and Doyle) and headed to Draper.

We hiked just a bit to the wall, and wow! Apparently a local dentist had taken the place under his wing, encouraged his scouts to clean up a bit, and now everyone can benefit. There are benches, plaques with hilarious Dental references and the climb's rating, a fence ... We decided on a climb to the north of "Dry Socket," and got to work. It was a grand ol' time peppered with non-stop laughs. While Doyle was climbing, he yelled out "That's a convenient crack!" I was pumped that I got to be outside and away from the school.

Then the laughing stopped.

Jess decided to climb and clean it, and Doyle was eager to belay her. So why not?

Here's why not: It was the most terrifying experience of my life knowing that Jess was hanging on the wall, while down below there was nothing I could do to get the sequence of belaying to stick in Doyle's mind. "Your number one priority is to keep your right hand down, that is what will lock the rope and save her life if she happens to fall," I pleaded. You think this would click, nope. I tried making the process visual: Left hand down, right hand up, right hand down, left hand down, slide ... I tried doing it at the same time Doyle was ... It all resulted in a jumbly, awkward mess of a try by Doyle.
I was hoping that Jess wasn't aware of how scared I was, and I was insanely grateful that it was an easy climb, but I was verge panic. I tried to be supportive and continued to walk Doyle through the process over and over again ... huge sigh ... at least she made it to the top safely, and then ...

"I got this," Doyle reassured us, confident that he understood how to let her down. I finally felt confident that this was the part where redemption would come for the lackluster first half of the climb. I explained to Doyle that the rope needed to come through slowly, and Doyle said he has had experience with repelling before ... I shouldn't have been so assuming that this was the easy part.

The first five feet of Jess' descent was perfect, and then whoosh! She dropped 20 feet within seconds. I didn't see her actually drop, I was watching the rope the whole time. I saw strain on Doyle's face and heard the panicked, "Whoa! She means business," and I lurched and grabbed the rope and yanked it down. My heart was beeping. Jess handled it very well so feelings weren't hurt, but oh man, I wanted to get mad.

Now it's all really funny, and Ben and I can't stop saying, "Whoa! She means business!" Ben was really flustered when I told him the story, "She means business?! Like Jess has any control over the whole thing." Exactly Ben, exactly.

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