Everybody seem to have some sort of secret bucket list of items we want to do before we pass over the rainbow bridge. At least many people I know have at times interesting things such as meeting Dalai Lama, hug a dolphin, climb to base-camp of Everest, learn how to dive, kiss Brad Pitt (or Angelina Jolie) or perhaps even jump out of a perfectly functioning plane by parachute.
How many has rappelling off a 180 foot cliff by waterfall? Not many; and neither did I!
A few days ago I was invited to an all-day leadership team building event, where the objective was to solve challenges collectively. There were 9 stations we had to visit, each worth an imaginary amount and with different problem solving tasks.
My team decided to go for the money and went straight to the station with the highest value, well knowing it might be a difficult event. Little did we know that we would meet fear face-to-face … I was just grateful I had packed extra boxer shorts.
As the SUV stopped and we got out, we were presented with a “small” / “short” hike to the location, which in fact was a severe hike for a bunch of paper pushing office nerds. We face uphill battles daily in our job, but most of them do not involve profound sweating and fatigue.
The battled to the top and were presented with the challenge; rappelling down a 180 foot cliff side, right next to a waterfall. Although I have abseiled in the past, it has never been from such a ridiculous height.
Hint: abseiling = rappelling
Silly enough, I spluttered out that I had actually done abseiling before and wouldn’t mind going first. I swear it was my evil personality surfacing, as I had no recollection of uttering these foul words.
We all dressed up in our designer harnesses, placed the eggshell helmet on the head and pulled on cool leather gloves. This was followed by a very brief instructor lead presentation about the obstacle ahead and how to stay safe, which was all just a blur to me. I was more focused on finding the bottom of the gorge of death.
Suddenly my name was called and forced an awkward smile towards the camera, said a quick prayer to the nearest God and was hooked onto the lines.
Slowly I walked backwards towards the edge, which in reality is a really stupid and unnatural thing to do. If we were meant to climb off cliffs at this height, then we would have been born with a belay device attached to our bellybutton.
As my arse started to dangle over the edge, I started to tighten my very weak belly muscles and gently feeding the belay thingy rope to lower me towards my certain death.
It wasn’t a yelp of joy that I uttered when my feet lost the connection with the cliff side, and I do apologise for any blasphemous screams and other ancient curses that might have been heard across the valley. Some might argue that it sounded like a scarred piglet, but that was not my intention.
The actual descent lasted for about a minute, but it was the longest minute in the history of time. It felt more like 80 minutes. During the entire time, I was staring fear in its eyes and cried! Thankfully not visible to my colleagues.
Finally at the bottom! What seemed like an eternity was over and I proudly walked towards the instructor showing him the ‘V’ sign, only to slip on the wet rocks, banging my shin and releasing another scream of pain. However, I succeeded and overcame fear, even if it was a battle … and even if I had to change my boxers!
It was never on my bucket list to jump off a 180 feet cliff, only supported by a tiny rope, but I’ve quickly added it, and marked it as completed 🙂