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499 Ramble Goes Rappelling 2011-10-19

RAmble the raccoon rappelling

Monday afternoon I went to Fall Creek Falls for a special outing. I was going to belay a raccoon while it learned to rappel. Well, sort of ...

A week or so ago, some good friends asked if I would be interested in helping with a photo shoot. The idea was to take photos of the oversized State Park mascot, Ramble, rappelling. My climbing partner for years, Ray, was going to be the stunt double for Ramble and dress in the suit. The only problem was that he did not have a good range of vision from inside the costume's big raccoon head. More importantly he could not see his feet for his big belly. Yes, the Ramble costume depicts a rotund raccoon.

After setting the belay on a short cliff, we checked and re-checked the set-up. All was good and Ray began the dressing process. It was an unseasonably warm afternoon as he put on the costume. I am surprised that he did not have heat related issues, as we tinkered with the harness and rigging and readied the raccoon for rappelling. After many modifications we were ready to give it a try. Of course that was easy for me to say, I was just standing at the top of the cliff belaying, I was not the one in the hot, oversized raccoon suit.


Ramble getting ready for the rappel


Once clipped into the belay and the rappel ropes, Ramble, the raccoon, began backing toward the edge of the cliff. Ray could not see his feet in the costume, so I had to instruct him as to how to step backward over the uneven terrain. As he went over the edge I continued to warn him of obstacles as he blindly descended. Soon he was down the cliff and off the ropes. The raccoon had landed. It was not easy; but it went as well as expected for a first try.

Ray rappelled one more time to fine tune his rigging and then he was satisfied.

Oh, but the day was not over, we still needed a backup - so Monica also practiced in the suit. She did great; but she did misstep once and face planted into the cliff. The big head cushioned the blow and she bounced back into position.

We were done with the successful trial run. Probably the hardest part of my job was trying to keep from laughing and losing my focus while I belayed. There were many hecklers in the crowd, including myself. The raccoons played along and made it fun for everyone.

It was a good practice run and we were ready for the real photo shoot on the big rappel. To be continued ...

Happy Ramble trails


Ramble Day 2


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