Opposable Thumbs are a Terrible Thing To Waste…
Sometimes you just need to do something a little different. Something that will remind you that you are still alive and kicking.”
I was in need of a little jolt so I took John with me to a spot in southern Arizona where a major gas line crosses a “river”. We have a distorted view of rivers in Arizona. Basically a river is a huge dry wash that only runs about three times a year during the monsoon season. Anyway, John is game for just about anything so I called him up as usual was ready for whatever random event I had come up with.
He met me at my place about an hour later and we loaded up his car with my bag of climbing gear. I was going to take my truck but when I went to start it I found out that a pack rat had chewed through a wire somewhere in the engine compartment and it wouldn’t start. Just another perk of living in the desert!
Once we got close we had to take a rough dirt road in his car that brought us close to the river. Once we hit the river we had to take a vague dirt road to get to the tower. There are massive sinkholes along the banks of the river that are big enough to swallow up your vehicle and are kind of hard to see because of grass. At one point John was going to straddle a sinkhole in the middle of the “road” but decided to go around. Let’s just say that his first choice would have made for a long walk.
At the tower we put on the harnesses and junk, crawled through all the undergrowth to get to the tower and started the long ladder climb to get tot the top. The ladder climb itself is pretty fun. There’s no safety cage or anything. You are just exposed on the ladder all the way to the top.
Once we got to the top we chilled a while and enjoyed the incredible view. It was a little unnerving because there were a couple of monsoon storms with a lot of lightning in the distance. Depending on which way they went we could have a little problem considering we were on the tallest (metal) structure within miles in any direction.
Here’s where the fun part starts. There’s huge cables that support the tower. On each end of the tower are two huge cables. I don’t know how long they are but they are looooong. The idea is you have two leads coming off your harness. You use the two leads to wrap around the cable so there’s something to keep yourself from falling to certain death. The redundancy of two leads is a good idea but for redundancy but is also a need for another reason. The cables are so big and long that there are support cables for the support cables. When you work your way down the cables and get to where the side cable supports meet the main cables, it is necessary to unhook one of the leads and then hook it again on the other side of the point where all the cables meet so you can continue on your journey.
Getting off the tower and onto the cables is probably the most difficult part. You have to kind of let yourself swing off the tower and then using your arms and legs start the decent down the cable upside down.
The first section of cable tore me up! The blood drains out of your hands and legs and it’s necessary to take breaks where you have to completely hang by the two leads with your arms hanging down to get the blood back.
I wasn’t that prepared and the cable rubbed the inside of my left leg raw. Shorts probably wasn’t the best idea. Also, the way I had my leads set up I had to manually work them down the cable as they wouldn’t slide on their own. That took a lot of extra energy that I didn’t really have.
The good thing is that once I reached the end of the first section where the “cable support cables” meet the main two cables, there was enough distance between the main cables it was possible to climb up and on top so I wasn’t hanging upside down. Nice!
At this point in the story, it is necessary to state that John had no problem climbing the tower. The rest……well……let’s just leave it at that. He knows how hard it is for me not to give him a hard time about anything and everything I can so let’s just say it was a lonely climb down.
It took probably close to 45 minutes or so to get all the way down. I have no concept of heights or distances but it was a long way down.
Luckily there were only a few lightning strikes that were even close and when they hit they were useful for an extra shot of adrenaline. By this time it was completely dark outside and we still had some sinkholes we had to dodge to get out.
It was a good trip. Nobody fell to their death. Good views and pictures were taken. Life was back into perspective and the world was back in balance.