By: Hayley Haws
There are few things that can raise panic in a non-experienced rappeler like the transition from walking along a horizontal surface to traversing a vertical one. It feels wrong and dangerous and is likely the moment when someone backs out of a rappel and announces they can’t do it.
When I signed up to do an Adventure Photography workshop in Moab I wondered if I could push myself through that uncomfortable moment that I had only experienced once before in 2007. Though it had been more than ten years before, I could still recall the incapacitating panic I had felt when my legs had to leave the ground to find support on the side of a wall. Knowing that feeling would likely return on my upcoming trip, I decided to focus on what I could control, which was my gear.
For the canyoneering part of our trip I knew I was likely to encounter water so I decided to get a Bomber Mini Pro 20L. This bag would keep my gear (including a camera) dry during any water sections and as a bonus, it came with a chest strap and waist belt. When I chose this bag I cared about these features because I wanted my camera to not jostle around as I moved through the canyon. When it was my time to rappel down, I realized that these extra straps were completely necessary for me.
On the day of the rappel, I learned we would be doing two lines, one through a narrow canyon and the other down Morning Glory Arch. Once ropes were attached to me and I was given the go-ahead to begin descending, I felt the intense fear emerge. On the edge of making the confession that I couldn’t do it, I decided to take some deep breaths and to lean back just a little. I realized that despite hanging over an edge I felt grounded. I know part of this feeling came from having my gear firmly attached to my back with the support straps, versus hanging like a typical backpack would. With this small feeling of safety, I was able to take small steps till I had made it down the first rappel line and then again with the second.
When I had woken up that morning I didn’t know if I would have to sit out and watch others do the rappel. With my a little bravery and the Kiva Bomber Mini Pro, I was able to face and conquer a fear I had had been carrying for more than ten years.
Kiva Outdoors is all about the journey and not needing to worry about your gear. We are glad that it helped Haley, and we know it can help you protect your gear on your next adventure. To check out our backpacks and dry bags, visit the Kiva store now!