Experience Rope ClimbingAn indescribable feeling: Hanging from a rock face with nothing more than fresh air between your feet and the sun-scorched ground below.
Rappelling might just have been invented for Utah’s colossal sandstone fins, improbably balanced boulders and soaring spires. After you wrap up your mountain biking skills class in Moab, the 76,000-acre Arches National Park contains endless challenges, dizzying drops and thousands of namesake stone arches.
“Take a course of instruction before you dangle your body off of any high feature on the planet’s surface,” says Todd Goss, the brains behind Paragon Adventures, a company that organizes guided outdoor activities in Utah. And anyone wanting to tackle them armed only with a rope requires a clear head and nerves of steel.
“Walking backwards off a cliff goes against most people’s concept of self-preservation,” says Goss. “So, unsurprisingly, there’s a big adrenaline response. The biggest issue for people starting out is trying to manage that.” Instructors can help prepare first-timers for the feeling of taking their lives into their own hands.
“My heart was racing as I went over the edge,” says Katie Sanders, 24, a legal secretary from Santa Monica. “You can’t shake the knowledge that the only thing stopping you from plummeting more than 300 feet to the canyon floor is the piece of rope.
But then the adrenaline surge subsided into this amazing feeling of freedom and control over my actions. I could then really be part of the descent and appreciate the incredible surroundings.”
Anyone who musters the will to hang off natural structures often hundreds of feet tall is repaid with unbeatable views. Hanging from a rock face with nothing more than fresh air between your feet and the sun-scorched ground below offers a completely new way to appreciate landscapes that in photos often defy belief. “When you’ve got the amazing beauty of the red desert, slot canyons, sweeping vistas and massive cliffs,” says Goss, “the technique of rappelling gives you a whole new perspective. And a great thrill, too.”
Advice from the inside
“Before you go rappelling, make sure you learn how the system operates and how to stay alive if something goes awry” says Todd Goss.
Utah: More to explore
Go BEYOND THE ORDINARY, be inspired every day, and dive deep into the world of The Red Bulletin:
The Red Bulletin App: Read brand new stories anytime and anywhere on your mobile devices
The Red Bulletin Magazine: Get the magazine delivered to your door every month by subscribing here