Flying and Climbing and Rappelling

Saturday was so much fun. We started off at 9am at the Richland Airport. 11 of us met there. We had three planes between us, so we split up and got in. After a little difficulty getting two of the planes started, we were in the air and away towards Wenatchee. Our plane was the fastest, so we went up to 8500 feet on the way over. I got to fly part of the way. It is incredibly difficult to keep the plane level and on heading. I was able to keep it within 100 feet of 8500 and within 20 degrees of our heading, which is alright, but I can definitely see the usefulness of having computers handle all the fine adjustments in commercial planes. What would have taken a couple hours of driving took us 50 minutes of flying, and it was great scenery the whole way. We had a nice landing and Emily’s family picked us up at the airport and drove our group back to their house. From there we took a short ride over to the base of the trail. A short bit into the trail AJ and I broke off to head more directly up the hill, which was an exhausting effort, but we beat everyone else up the hill by a few minutes, even with our frequent breaks.

Once we got up the hill, Craig and Ryan secured the rope to a huge rock and rappelled down to test it out. They had done this many times before, so were comfortable with it. We spent the next few hours having fun rappelling. We threw another rope over the other side of the cliff and did some rock climbing up it. I had my climbing shoes on, and it’s incredible what a difference they make for walking on rock. It’s also very different climbing on real rock instead using some sort of gym. I had to test the rock to make sure it wasn’t loose before grabbing it, and the handholds weren’t nearly as friendly. Still, it was great fun. At one point almost at the top the other half of the rope swung by my face and pulled my glasses off of my face. They bounced down the side of the mountain to near where AJ was belaying me. I finished climbing to the top, then came down, and some people searched for my glasses (I wasn’t exactly in a position to search for them). Miraculously, they were found completely unharmed. No bends, no broken lenses, not even any scratches.

We played around some more and figured out how to hook up our gear for rappelling aussie-style, which is facing forward and walking down instead of sitting down and going backwards. It was a little unnerving before I started, but once I was completely on the rope and looking straight down it got a lot easier.

At around 4 everyone went back to the house for a barbecue, but I stayed with AJ and Craig and we tried ascending the rope using some simple gear. I tried it, but couldn’t get past a bit that stuck out from the face, and decided to let AJ give it a whack. He struggled over that part, too, but once he got past it he made pretty quick progress up. Since it was starting to get late and clouds were coming in, we pack up our stuff and went back down to join the barbecue with the rest. Then we went back to the airport and headed back to Richland, making it back at about 6.

It was a great trip, and it is so cool to have friends that fly and do cool things. How many people can say “yeah, some friends and I flew over to Wenatchee and went rock climbing and rappelling for the day,” or anything like that?

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