Saturday, June 30, 2012

Climb On.

Right now my uncle is working in DC for a short period of time while the rest of his family stays back in Connecticut. Many weekends he heads home to see them, but sometimes he comes down to see us, which is awesome. It used to be a lot harder to see Uncle Carl, especially because he was often somewhere out to sea, so it has been pretty neat and the little boys have really loved having him so close to us. This weekend Uncle Carl drove down and brought his rock climbing stuff along with him.

Over the past few years, Uncle Carl has accumulated quite a collection of rock climbing gear, and has taken a few classes so he knows everything to do. I guess a few weekends ago when he came down they were talking about rock climbing, and he found this little place called "Rappahannock Rocks." This is the rock face, and on the other side is the river, which was beautiful.

Bryce was the first one to start climbing. There was a little area on the side to start climbing up, so all of us took that approach. However, once Bryce got to the actual rock face, he couldn't quite figure it out and got frustrated and wanted to come down. Also, he was super nervous.

So then we sent Rachel on up to give it a try, and turns out she is afraid of heights. She was so afraid that she was going to fall and wasn't strong enough to hold herself up, so down she came.

Uncle Carl belaying everyone

Ryan wanted to go next, but because they were all having trouble I went climbing next to try and show them a few different ways you could find holdings in the rocks and how to use your body to push yourself up and around. I ended up at the top where we anchored the ropes, and came back down. It was really fun.

Climbing back on down

Then we sent Ryan up, and he was actually pretty fearless and got pretty far for his age, I thought. He needed a little boost in the beginning in order to get from one rock onto another because his poor legs are pretty short, but after that, he did a lot by his self, and he seemed to be having a pretty good time. Once he got to this big crack in the rocks where you put your feet and hands to climb, however, he wanted to come down.

After he watched a few more people try it out, Bryce tried again. He got farther than he did the first time, but he wasn't able to get past the rock ledge because he was scared he was going to fall, so he came on down and was done climbing for the day.

Rachel tried again, too, and got as far as Bryce did. She stood there for a while, but then she wanted to come down. I think if she wasn't afraid of the heights, she would have climbed right up without a problem :)

Uncle Carl also taught me how to belay, which was pretty cool. While Rachel climbed, I controlled her ropes so he made sure I knew what I was doing. A little test run, if you will.

Then once he was confident in my belaying abilities, Uncle Carl climbed up the rock face. However, it was nice and easy for him. He takes his four boys climbing in Connecticut when he goes home, so they have a little bit more practice with the rock climbing :) Once he got to the top, he switched onto a repelling rope and repelled himself down.

Once Uncle Carl finished climbing, he hooked himself onto the white rope while I belayed Ryan, and he tried to climb a little beside him in order to help him get over some of the rougher parts to where he could keep climbing by his self. He got the farthest of the other kids, but still was a bit small to do the whole thing.

Rachel wasn't so sure about it! Ha!

Rachel and Ryan in front of the rock face

The river was right by where we were climbing. If we had known, we would have brought our bathing suits because people could have been wading in the water while others were climbing, but when we started today we had no idea where the rocks were or what they looked like. It was beautiful, and there was nobody there, either.

I climbed up to the top once more, and this time I just stayed on up there to break down all of our anchors and wrap everything up. We packed up, hiked the trail back to the cars, and headed to Wawa on the way home. Near the end of our day, Uncle Carl was saying how hot it was and Ryan said, "Yeah, it feels like a good day for some 44 ounce slurpees from Wawa, right?" One time when Uncle Carl came down he took the boys to Wawa and got them huge slurpees, so I think the boys feel it is some sort of tradition now. Well, we went and Ryan got a 32 ounce slurpee, of which he probably drank about 10 ounces before he was so full, but it was definitely a fun way to end our first outdoor climbing adventure!