Climbing at Rawley Springs
Sept. 25, 2004
by Matt Keener
Ah, I am a lucky guy. Lucky? Why so lucky you ask…well, I got off early on Saturday, and I am a lucky soul because I get to go climbing instead of being stuck inside on such a gorgeous day! But wait, how do Greek tragedies begin? That’s right folks, they begin in the best of times. I only have about 2 hours, but I thought that would be plenty, given that Rawley Springs is only 20 minutes out of town. Sadly, once we had cleared town, and spent 20 minutes discussing my lack of a Virginia inspection sticker with the nice police officer, we were already over an hour down. Still, I persevered, even knowing I would only have half an hour to climb. We arrived in the parking lot with no further mishaps, and went to scout Juliet’s Wall for a likely place to set up a top rope. We found a phenomenal place with a lovely 40-50 foot wall, even with a bolted anchor on top for us to use. We all ran back down the path to gather gear, and there, on the first step of the flat, graded ! parking lot….I twisted my ankle. Oh Gods, why must you punish me! I recover, and try my best to pretend nothing happened. We load up, and make our way back to the anchor. We double anchor with some webbing, and toss the rope bag over the side, and I hop down to make my way down to tie an anchor there, and set up to belay. Unbeknownst to me, there happened to be a hornets nest down there. And, in fact, said hornet’s nest was apparently right where the rope bag hit. My first indication something was wrong was a sharp pain in my groin. My first thought was a spider had crawled up my gym shorts or something, when I felt another behind my ear. It was then that the first hornet decided to buzz my face, and it was then that I did something extremely brave….I screamed like a little girl and started running through the woods slapping at myself. It’s not something I’m proud of, but they were trying to perforate my penis! I’d been looking for a piercing, but that wasn’t th! e manner I had been planning on doing it. I tried to come back a few times, but they kept chasing me away, while Steve and Chris laughed their asses off 50 feet above me. I finally make it back to the top of the rock, and Chris tries to pull the rope up so we can go elsewhere. Unfortunately, the mystic gods of mischief are again laughing at us, as the stopper knot in the rope fails to stop the rope from coming lose from the bag. Whoops?
So there were are, up on a big rock, with the rope bag 50 feet below us, and a couple dozen mad hornets between us. And then Steve notices…hey, what’s that white thing down there, someone else left a bag…nope, that would be my harness I dropped when I went screaming into the woods. So MacGyver, no, motherfuckers better than MacGyver, put together a grappling hook with carabiners, and deftly retrieved my harness. About this time, a scout from the horde managed to make it up to the top of the rock, and buzz onto my shirt. He disappears, and I think I’m safe for a moment, but then Chris suggests maybe he went in my shirt. I do my little happy happy dance, and strip off the shirt to find the little sucker clinging inside. Whew, that was deftly avoided. We wrap him up in my shirt, stomp on him a little, open it up….he’s still there. Repeat. Still there, still alive, so I wrapped him up and left him there. For all I know he’s still in the shirt…I sure as hell ain! ‘t putting it back on. It was at this point that I left them, and dragged my shirtless, stung, twisted, ticketed ass back to the car to goto work, where I spent another 7 hours walking around on my poor ankle. And later I heard they had a couple hours of good climbing after I left. Ah, that nasty Loki laughing at me again.