• Image about Utah
Rappelling down Cougar Cliffs
John Burcham

Step right off. He makes it sound like it’s no big deal at all. Maybe he’s right. After all, it’s just 30 yards. Three first downs. The height of the Lincoln Memorial. Heck, people do more dangerous stuff than this on reality shows. Besides, I’ve got the rope. And Chad’s got me.

Still, my feet don’t move. Only my mind does. Suppose Chad hasn’t tied the rope properly to the twin buckles that have been drilled into the top of the canyon wall? Suppose the buckles haven’t been drilled deeply enough to hold my weight? Suppose Chad’s shoes are slippery and he falls down?
  • Image about Utah
kayaking in Gunlock Reservoir
John Burcham

I can’t do this. I’ve got to climb back up.

But climbing back up will mean no more climbing through the canyons. No more skinning my knees and elbows while crabbing my way along the walls. No more hearing cheers from my fellow mancationers, who ­applaud each other after every canyon crevice is traversed. I’m enjoying all this guy stuff. Even the zipper-pocketed pants and the backpack with the water hose are growing on me. So I’d rather it not end here.

Besides, climbing back up this edge means that the next time I climb up a barstool, I can’t tell the story of that time I rappelled down that canyon in Utah. Taking the next step will be terrifying, but not taking it will turn my indoorsman pursuits into a prison from which I’ll never escape. So, I push off.

Every moment of what happened next, every nanosecond between the first push and the final touchdown of my two feet on the canyon floor, and every emotion I had in the points between, is firmly locked in my memory. You want to hear about it? Meet me at the top of a barstool sometime.