In case you have never been rock climbing, I will let you in on a secret. Any time you see a flying rock climber it is bad news.
Hunter arrived with his climbing friends at Queen Creek Canyon, in Arizona (about 45 miles east of Phx- Mesa Gateway airport) to enjoy a day of outdoor rock climbing. This group of friends had been climbing here many times over the years and they did not think today would be any different than any other climb. They were in for a surprise.
Not Just Another Rock Climbing Day
There were many climbers setting up in their favorite spots. Each climber double-checked their equipment for wear and tear and general functionality. Properly working gear can make the difference in a life and death situation.
The climb on today’s agenda included a sport route with bolts about every 6 to 10 feet. Hunter would be lead with his friend as the belayer. The morning had gotten warm enough that Hunter decided to remove the lower half (below his knees) zipper pants. So, what remanded was a pair of long shorts and exposed legs.
After the partners checked each other’s equipment it was “On Belay” time. Hunter had ascended about 25 feet off the ground and had already clipped into a few bolts. Hunter’s right hand was gripping the handhold on the mountain. He had pulled up about 4 feet of slack and reached for a draw to clip into the next bolt. When he noticed that his right hand was holding the handhold and the handhold was no longer connected to the mountain.
The sensation of flying, no falling is what Hunter felt next. Then the lines crossed and snapped against his bare leg. All of a sudden, the momentum of his fall brought his belayer off the ground and up to the first bolt that was about 10 feet off the ground. Just as abruptly, Hunter was face to face with his belayer. Both men were hanging off the mountain by just a few bolts. Hunter looked at his right hand and saw… you guessed it the handhold, a large 25 lbs chunk of the mountain. He never dropped it. He held his grip, in an effort to prevent a falling rock from hitting his friend.
Thankfully, both climbers were able to return to the ground safely. Though with a very large rope burn cut into Hunter’s leg, he continued to climb for the rest of the day. Not letting a near-death experience stop them from enjoying the outdoors.
Flying Rock Climber
Next time you are rock climbing in the Queen Creek Canyon area in Arizona, remember to hold your grip. On the other hand, just don’t fall.
Have you tried rock climbing?