Sunday, October 04, 2009

Rappelling on a Munter

I haven't done anything worth blogging about in months and I certainly haven't done anything worth blogging about today, but I did go rapelling. My kayking friend Tom, swiftwater rescue expert and guru to all things roped, said the hot ticket for low-speed cliff jumping was 9mm NFPA static rope on a Pirana descender from Petzl. I found the rope and the special carabiner that works with the Pirana in town but I couldn't find the Pirana. I ordered one but it hadn't come in yet and I didn't want to waste a perfect day off waiting for it. Fortunately, I have internet and the internet says you can rappel on Munter hitch:

It doesn't look like much but it does work! It also twists the rope (just like the internet said it would). After a few rappels, I had the confidence to leap past the overhanging lip without choking up on the rope allowing me to recontact the rock with my feet instead of my knees. Much more comfortable! On my fourth trip, I stopped mid-abseil to try locking off the Munter with a mule hitch like I saw on the internet. The internet was right again! It's important to hold your tongue just right when you're suspended five feet from certain death aiming a camera:

My rope was already developing a pronounced twist after that descent so I decided to call it a day. I'm approaching this rappelling thing the same way I approach all my adventures: I'm using such extreme caution that it is virtually impossible that I will suffer any injury worse than a sprained pinky, and probably not even that. Yes, my adventures are so unadventurous that they are almost not adventures at all, but they sure are fun! Here I placed the backpack far beyond my rope and used a wide-angle lens to give the illusion that the cliff I selected was taller than it really was. It was actually about five feet tall:

Nothing too exciting, but I did get to build an anchor for the first time and prove out my gear under fairly non-lethal conditions. My project for next time is to ascend using prusiks. If that goes well, maybe I'll have the guts to tackle a ten-foot-tall cliff!


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