Day 94: September 4: At Jenny Lake; climbing lesson

Having watched many climbers at several places during my trip, as well as having talked to Ron who was camped next to me, I'd developed a curiosity about rock climbing. So I decided to take one or two of the courses offered by nearby Exum Mountain Guides.

We took the boat across the lake and hiked a bit, then began to learn.

The first course was an introduction to rope management and basic techniques. It included knots for attaching a harness to the end and middle of a line, as well as a knot to use to attach a safety line to your waist while rappelling.

Next, we did a little boulder climbing. Then we hiked up to Hidden Falls, and began a real climb. This was a "4 pitch" climb of about 200 feet, up a steep rock hillside. Each pitch was where everyone climbed, one at a time, up to the next ledge. Everyone was tied together, so (except for the guide, who was at the front of the line) we each had a safety line being managed from above. It was surprising how long it took people to learn the knots and how to belay (manage the rope for the climber below). But we all got up through the climbs. I had a few spots where my foot began to slip and I needed to re-position it (I'd rented appropriate shoes, which helped a lot).


The cliffs where we learned
The next skill was rappelling, where we descended down the wall along a rope, using friction to manage our speed. The first bit was down a slope that we'd climbed up, but the next part was over a ledge and then straight down, with no rock under my feet. It was scary but exciting to have my footing drop out as I went down, and then to lower myself 15 feet along the rope.
Rappelling
Even though I enjoyed the lesson, I decided not to do the intermediate one, since I saw the areas they were climbing on. I'd had trouble keeping my feet from slipping, and didn't want to take too many chances. Still, the view from up above was pretty.
The view from the top of the cliffs