Doing my last walkdown in rappelling: dealing with my grip

This 5:10pm, I had my last walkdown in rapelling. Let me just tell of my experience from the very first time I got down a 20-ft infastracture using a rope.

It was my turn, and I was the group leader which really brought big pressure to me to do it sooner than my groupmates. It was the most basic move you will ever learn in rapelling: walkdown. You will lock yourslef in a rope going down to the floor from the top of the 20-ft tower. You have to make sure that you’re accessories are all working properly and positioned correctly. You don’t want to die and scare yourself the first time you do it. You have a belayer down the tower to assist you.

First move, about face. Then you step on the metal tube gutter, and gently you move down your hips until your body is perpendicular the wall and your feet are firmly stepping on the wall, with your legs perfectly straight. And the catch, you can slide anytime if you don’t tightly hold the rope.

I was already facing Kuya Derek, my great JI, and he asked me to start putting down my ‘butt’ and position my self perpendicular to the wall. I was bending my knees, simply because I am scared. No, I won’t let it go. I was strengthfully holding the rope, as if my whole life was unto the rope. I began to sweat and shake. I didn’t let Kuya Derek lose attention of me. When I straightened up my legs, Kuya Derek then told me to start walking down. It took me a few seconds to take the initial step. I asked myself, am I really doing this? I reminded myself that I’d be OK anyway, and this is where I get out of my comfort zone.

I started speaking louder and in English so Kuya Derek would have no choice but to answer all my questions. I also made sure that my belayer was capable and fully aware of me. It took me almost 2 mins to go down. And after that, i sweated more. It’s a post-unnerving-event syndrome. I sweated a lot and I had one reaction: your grip to the rope is your life.

That was about 8 months ago.

I did my last walkdown this day. No, it wasn’t as dramatic as the first time I did it. There was no shining sunset on one angle of my face, there was no humming birds around me reminding my last walkdown, my apple-of-the-eye didn’t just flash before my eyes. It was a plain walkdown.

And now, I am learning that it is not actually my grip that holds my life, it’s the rope where my life is. I held the rope with all my strength because I needed to that time, but when I learned that I can do it anyway without putting so much force to the rope, I neglected it.

Like faith. I am so much reminded. The first times I encounter each unique problem, I am putting my whole grip to the rope. I sometimes tend to put my trust on my grip, over putting my whole trust first to the rope. But after seeing that I survived that trial, I forget the importance of my grip on the rope. I proudly not mind anyone belaying me, someone looking at my back, someone who will rescue me when I lose hold of the rope.

I forget that before trusting my grip on the rope, I first trusted the rope. Yes, my hold is important. But I just too much credit my grip on the rope over the whole capacity of the rope to support me, a lot lot more than what my belayer can do to assist me. I though that it was more about me. But one thing I realized, as long as you have a good grip, the rope will never fail me. It’s not about what I can do, but what the Rope can.

The good thing is that when I lose hold of the rope, my belayer, with a good grip of the rope, would be there to help me to hold the rope once again.

Anyway, good thing is I haven’t slipped yet. As much as possible, I make sure I have belayer.


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