Adventure within the Utah Outdoors – Simultaneous Rappel

I know, I know. I realize what some of you hard-core climbers are thinking. "Rappelling? I am a hard-core climber and that is the sissy way of doing things." And I would say that I agree with you in a way. But have you ever tried rappelling off of an arch? Here is a Utah outdoors adventure to try sometime that will really get the adrenaline going. Try a simultaneous rappel where your anchor is the weight of another's body.

I the spring of 2005 my friends (Steve and Dave) and I made a trip to Moab, Utah, to rappel down Morning Glory Arch. Morning Glory Arch is about two miles up Negro Bill Canyon which is just outside of Moab. Negro Bill Canyon can be found by following Main St. west out of Moab and then turning right just before the Colorado River onto St.. Rd. 128. Follow the road for about two miles until you reach the parking for Negro Bill Canyon. The hike is not strenuous and I was surprised at the amount of foliage in the Canyon. The arch is big, probably about 200 feet wide, and tucked back into a large alcove. My two friends and I then went around the left side to get to the top of the rim. We tried one approach that looked like an easy scramble but ended in a wall that we could not climb. After that did not work I tried another way up that was a little bit more to the left. It was a really easy climb up some rounded sandstone slopes. The sandstone was not steep but was very exposed. It made me pretty nervous since I had no protection and I could have fallen a long way. I certainly would not recommend doing it. Once to the top I set a nut with a long piece of webbing (50 ft.) To help Steve and Dave past the sketchy part.

After this obstacle, we ever scrambled up to the rim. There are huge fields of cryptobiotic soil crust. It is a very delicate soil formation that takes a long time to develop. To avoid disturbing the soil, be sure to walk on bare rock or river beds. It is very fragile.

Once to the top we made our way southwest to the canyon that houses the arch. The arch its self is not at the same level as the rim but halfway between the rim and the canyon floor. We reached the arch by rappelling down an alley that was southeast of the arch. We rappelled off of a tree and the alley ran out to the arch. Once on the arch, Steve got on one side and I on the other and we rappelled down simultaneously. My heart started racing when my weight settled in the harness and the rope started to shift quite a bit. It turns out that one side of the arch rounds of quicker than the other. My side was the steep side so I was weighing the rope sooner then Steve-hence the shifting in the rope. Pretty scary since I constantly had the thought in my head that I could probably pull him over but what a rush! Once we rappelled down I stayed clipped in and then Dave rappelled down Steve's rope.

You can see pictures of this Utah adventure here .

Source by Kevin Willeitner



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