It’s not every day that someone gets the opportunity to climb mountains in the effort to get ahead, Troop 464 from Sierra Vista, AZ did just that over the Memorial Day weekend.
Six youth, accompanied by four adults, made the hour-long trip to the Dragoon mountains northeast of Tombstone on Friday evening. We picked out a camp site right along the base of the rocking mountainous area and pitched our tents around a circular area complete with a center firepit.
After all the gear was unloaded from the trailer and the kitchen area was setup, the Senior Patrol Leader, Mathew, and his Assistant Senior Patrol Leader, Russell, got busy setting up the campfire for evening’s roundtable of scouts gathering around the fire to discuss the plan for the next day.
It is just tradition to have a campfire to end the day’s activities.
Saturday morning it was tie to rise with the sun and get started on breakfast hardy enough to prepare for the rigorous activities of Mountain Climbing and Rappelling.
Another Troop 444 was handling the sponsoring of the mountain activities. They provided the counselor and training to allow the scouts to fulfill the hardest parts of earning the Climbing merit badge.
The scouts started out with Ground School provided by the Scoutmaster of Troop 444, Scott Pierce. The training consisted of the proper application of the webbing belt and leg-loop system harness that attaches a climber to a rope by way of special knots and carabiners and hardware required. The scouts were also able to practice the processes used in both mountain climbing and rappelling.
Everyone was getting excited as the ground school training came to a close and the actual practical application of what they had learned was just around the corner.
Mountain climbing was first. It presented more of a challenge to the group than rappelling did. It’s always harder to climb up than it is to let yourself fall under the power of gravity. Each climber was protected from falling by two belay people providing tension on the safety line. The climbing rope is like a pulley design with one attached to the climber and the other end is held by the belay person. In scouting there is a requirement to have a second belay person just for the extra safety it offers.
Rappelling is inherently riskier than mountain climbing because everything resides on the equipment involved. While climbing you have more control as you are doing the climbing. The equipment is only there in case it is needed. While climbing is a little like walking up the mountain, rappelling is like walking down the mountain backwards like Joey did. For the more intrepid, there is always the “Down Under Version” and walk down the mountain seeing where you are going like Mathew did.
“Do something that you’ve never done.
Only then can you have something you’ve never had”
“How far we climb is what decides how far down we can go rappelling”
That evening a tuckered-out bunch of climbing came back to the campsite and lit the campfire and cooking stoves for the evening meal. After supper all settled down to sitting in the glow and warmth of the nighttime campfire, reminiscing about the day’s past events. The day’s activities ushered in a short evening around the campfire and early to bed.
The next morning at dawn, the process of tearing down camp, policing the area, and loading the vehicles and traveler brought the good times to an end. We loaded up the vehicles and headed home.
All good things must come to an end sometime.
Asst. Scoutmaster, Troop 464