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True Confessions…. A climbing activity you knew was questionable, but you did it anyway.




Early on during our State of Idaho EMS BCMRT certification training, one of the centralized training locations for all of the Idaho regional teams was White Bird, Idaho, a small rural town of less than 100 residents, within an hour drive northeast of Pittsburg Landing on the Salmon River.

After our Saturday field training was completed at 6:00 pm, we headed into town for dinner and beverages, surprisingly to find the sidewalks were all rolled up tight at 5:00 pm in White Bird. The local bar and grill was even closed.

I believe the statute of limitations has long since passed, so here is “My True Confession”.

Our instructors apparently wanted to provide some additional excitement to our day, so we all were led to the edge of town, onto the middle topside deck of White Bird Bridge, of Old Hwy 95.

Highway traffic was nonexistent at this time of day, however even though we were a State of Idaho EMS Agency, we all kept an alert eye out for our brothers and sisters of the Idaho State Police.

Our 3 instructors set up an anchor system mid-bridge for a Single 11 mm Kernmantle Dynamic Rope Rappel.

The peer pressure was beginning to be felt by all.

I do not know how high we were over White Bird Creek and the road below, but it took a 300’ Rope Bag toss to hit the ground below.

Our fellow team members from across the state, consisted of combined EMS and LE personnel.

When ever you get that particular group of people together after business hours, there is going to be a lot of back and forth bravado going on.

This occasion was no exception.

One soul at a time, we each roped up to our figure eight, of which was firmly secured to our harness with a locking carabiner, and climbed over the handrail of the bridge to face our peers, all smiling ear to ear and talking trash, of which was returned with enthusiasm.

Notice what’s missing?

No mention of “On Belay!” or “Belay On!”

Peer pressure on steroids was now in 4WD.

This part is quite amazing… even the most boisterous of the group became quiet as a church mouse, upon reaching the underside of the bridge, suspended in awe, of how huge the bridge’s supporting steel girders were and how much dead air space lay below.

My turn on the Kenmantle was no different.

I became stone cold silent, even with a firm footing on the concrete deck and handhold on the business side of the railing,

The highlight of my turn at bat, was coming face to face with a section of frayed sheath, a third of the way downward on my vertical  journey.

My reaction to the surprising discovery, was a very vocal single word expletive.

That’s when I said to myself,

“Never, never, never again will I forego safety and succumb to peer pressure.”

I breathed a huge sigh of relief, when both of my feet landed on the ground.

To this day, I believe this was the training lesson, our instructors planned for this occasion:

“Routinely inspect your equipment. Don’t ever forego safety, succumb to peer pressure, or single rope rappel without being On Belay”.

7 Replies

Pretty much any and every climbing activity I've attempted.  😁

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

To drill down on the purpose of the training, was to drive the point home, at a “Military Boot Camp” emotional level. 

The purpose of this post is to relay “tough lessons learned”, REI Members may have experienced in the past, which reinforced climbing safety best practices, not necessarily for people that have never made mistakes to comment. 



I think you misunderstood the intent of my post.  It was in no way meant diminish your accomplishments, nor to imply that I've never made mistakes.  Having just started in climbing, I have done nothing but make mistakes.

My intent was to make a light-hearted reply based upon the title " knew was questionable, but you did it anyway."  In my case, every climbing activity I've tried has been questionable in my own mind, but I've made the attempts anyway.  I was speaking to a spirit of perseverance and overcoming the obstacles one puts upon themselves. 

My sincerest apologies if that reply was in poor taste.  I meant no offense.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Hi Rob,

Thanks for your very sincere reply, clarification, honesty, and “True Confession”.




Back in the piton era, driving a piton and not getting the classic ringing sound indicative of a solid placement, and going ahead with the ascent.  Chocks and cams have been a wonderful improvement.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

roped team across a snow covered glacier in the middle of a hot afternoon, instead of very early morning...NEVER NEVER DO THIS.

REI Member Since 1979

thinking I could hold a nubbin when my finger was already bleeding.  doesn't work, becomes very slippery.  and you get blood all over the rock!

stone mtn state park, ncstone mtn state park, nc465896-R1-02-2.jpg465896-R1-03-3.jpg465896-R1-04-4.jpg

REI Member Since 1979