Playing The Slots…by A.M.

I had just arrived at ET earlier in the day. I got my gear, then joined the group on a Canyoneering Expedition. I was motivated to get over my fear of heights when I voluntarily decided to come to Expedition Therapy. This decision was a challenge I set for myself. When I was younger, I had an opportunity to rappel down a rock face, but I froze and could not move. I look back on that now and realize that I had been overcome with so much fear that I felt totally paralyzed from head to toe. All I could think about was my intense fear of heights and wanting to quit, so I bailed.

I had never imagined that I'd be facing this challenge yet again on the same day that I arrived. The Expedition Therapy Instructor Team provided me with a thorough safety lesson, which included rope handling, breaking, knots, canyoneering techniques, and the verbal commands used to communicate with each other. I learned that Ascenders are mechanical devices used when you are ascending the rope; Setting The Anchor is the point where the rope is secured to the rock with bolts, rocks, slings or other gear; The Chock Bag is filled with resin for gripping the rope better; Belay is a command word that means to secure a climber with rope; Abseil is a term used to describe sliding down the rope under control, such as in rappelling; Chimneying is a climbing technique where you put your feet on one side and your back on the other, then work your way up; and then there's the Crux, which is aptly named, as it's the most difficult part of the course.

After my safety lesson was checked off by my Instructors, I double-checked my sit harness, rope, knots and helmet. Then I asked an Instructor and a fellow student to do the same. Down I went, into the cavernous mauve and coral sandstone slot canyon, filled with confidence and awe! I spent the rest of the day "playing the slots" and now I really love canyoneering. I realize now that I had to let go of that huge burden…fear. As soon as I had the knowledge, the techniques, and the skills dialed in, I felt so much more confident. I was on top of the world and feeling light as a feather as I wound myself inside and through another slot! I have challenged myself to complete more of these slot canyon routes and am really looking forward to our Rock Climbing Expedition next week. Stay tuned…