Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 13, 2010

BTR, part 3: what to do?

Filed under: 1 — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 10:24 pm
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dawn is a good time to think clearlyIt’s my weekend. I decide to drive to Durango, CO, where my friend Ed is house-sitting. Ed is a highly proficient climber who taught me canyoneering basics last summer, and whom I can trust to give me accurate feedback about the Basic Technical Rescue course. He’s done it all, Advanced Everything. He’ll shoot from the hip.

Ed listens to my saga about the application, the acceptance letter, and the agonizing second-guessing. He senses my serious self-doubt. Why would I put myself through this? What reasons are good enough? Am I trying to prove something to someone, or to myself? Will I ever use these skills? Shouldn’t I give that spot to someone younger, with a full NPS career ahead of them? And what about my Knot Fear? The list of excuses grows longer.

“I hope you didn’t cancel.” Ed’s interjection caught me by surprise, tangled up as I was in my own trepidation. “No. But I have been vacillating. A LOT.” “I can teach you your knots. You can do this.”

In that moment I realize I am at a crossroads. I can cave in to my own fears and doubts, or I can embrace this as an incredible learning opportunity that will take me farther from my comfort zone than I can imagine. For the first time in days, I dare to believe that I can do this… and I like how it feels.

To Be Continued…

BTR, Part 2: The disconcerting details

Shafer Point, Canyonlands -- this is the type of terrain on which the training will take place

Boss Nancy handed me the print copy of the congratulatory email and I tucked it away for later study. I floated around all day grinning at this unexpected turn of events.

And then, after work, I read the fine print. Five pages of it.

1. After describing the clothing we’ll need, and admonishing us to be prepared with our personal  gear to be self-sufficient for any weather (from spring snowstorms to 80’s), it says in bold: “For some reason not everyone understands this last statement, and it is painful to watch them suffer when the weather turns sour.” Gulp. I’ll need more weather gear. Lots.

2. Equipment List. Twenty items. Half of them I have; half of them (being a new climber) I don’t yet own. I will beg or borrow what I can. Thrift shop may help with some of them, like rain gear and cold weather parka.

3. “CRITICAL PRE-STUDY NOTE: All participants  will be required to demonstrate competency in the knots and ties specified below at the beginning of class. If you are unable to demonstrate them, you will be held back in the course (until proficiency is attained, no matter how long it takes) and your supervisor will be notified of this deficiency.” Big gulp. The only knot I know is for tying scarves. There are eleven on this list. Spatial relations and I don’t get along, so diagrams of knots are very tough for me.


I’m not grinning any more. My stomach is in a knot, and I don’t know if it is a Double Fisherman’s or a Figure Eight On A Bight. I’m wondering what the heck I’ve gotten myself into, and whether I should proceed with this or abandon ship.

To Be Continued…

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