Saturday, 29 December 2012

Benefits of trying out the High Ropes

Me, on the high ropes at XC Hemel Hempstead
This little outing took me by surprise.  It started with Hannah and Becky being booked in while Rachel and I would drink coffee, plot and plan.  The plan changed, it was to be Hannah and myself.  Gulp.  This sounded scary and it looked awfully high from ground level.

We booked in, I read the disclaimer form and recall it mentioning how I was agreeing it was a potentially fatal activity.  Yes of course I would have a go, with the odd bit of knee shaking.

Hannah had done this before and is a fearless climber extraordinaire. We had our instruction from Owen and we were off.  Needless to say Hannah went first and lapped me in no time at all.  It is a high level obstacle course but to prevent any fatal falls, you wear a harness and a helmetwhich is attached to an overhead rail.  So if you do slip or let go, you'll have a wedgey (as ably explained by Owen, the instructor) and then just dangle there.  Greater challenges can be arranged by having a longer rope, so you'd have to pull yourself up a bit.

Owen our instructor making sure Hannah was ready to go.
Afterwards we got talking to Owen, our instructor.  Clearly a man who is passionate about all the activities in the XC building - besides the high ropes there is caving, climbing, skateboarding and BMX stunt riding.  Quite an impressive building all in all.

When I said it sounded like a hobby he was getting paid for, he smiled and couldn't disagree.  He loved it!

I asked Owen about the benefits of the high ropes.  What do people get out of it?  Why do they do it? Already I was feeling a fraud as I could tell myself but it was going to be interesting to consider the real range of the high ropes experience:

  • Confidence.  That's about confidence in yourself and your ability to push yourself in to new ground.  Just have some trust in yourself and what you can really do
  • Over-coming phobias.  Many people experience a fear of heights; their fear of falling no matter how safe they might be.  This does carry some risk, but so does driving a car down the M1 to Hemel Hempstead.  It's a manageable, controllable risk
  • Muscle strength.  Obstacle courses like this get you using different muscles and muscles you didn't know you had!  Novices lilke me tend to use their arms more than their legs.  I think as my experiences grows, I'd be much more proficient before long
  • Fun.  Yes after my initial apprehension, it was fun being able to master the challenge and to be a little quicker on the second and third laps.  Never as fast as Hannah though.  Being beaten by a 12 year old - how uncool is that?
  • Trust.  That's about trusting the instructor, the equipment and your own judgement. 
The more I think about this the more I'm pleased Hannah twisted my arm.  It was good fun and I'm so pleased I did it.  I even enjoyed looking down, seeing other people looking up at me.  I asked Owen if anyone stood out, if there were any moments that stuck in his mind.  He said the oldest person was actually in his late 50s (hey, I thought, I'm in my 50s but I never want to think of myself as being anywhere near the oldest).  From time to time people need rescuing.  This could involve the instructor simply being with someone and helping them around, right through to someone needing a more official rescue.  They are well equipped and practised for lowering people straight to the ground in the event of emergencies.

So why not give it a go if you get the chance?  High recommended. 

Thank you so much Owen for making our High Rope experience so good, for your attention and time and your passion for bringing these experiences within easy reach for almost anyone.

Here's their website:


No comments:

Post a Comment