I was one step away from a 50m drop and my life was literally hanging by a thread (or a small rope in my case). My heart was racing so fast that it felt like I just finished a 100m sprint against Usain Bolt. From one minute to the other I went from being perfectly calm to being completely panicky. Why? Because I am extremely scared of heights, but was about to abseil down a 50m high building in La Paz, Bolivia…
La Paz seems to be the adventure sport enthusiast’s dream. Only a few days previously we went on a bike ride down the world’s most dangerous road and as if that wasn’t enough, in a moment of madness I also signed up for La Paz’s latest adrenalin rush experience – abseiling down a 50m high building with Urban Rush. Unfortunately Chris had to work so I didn’t have my usual moral support with me. I like a bit of adventure but I actually suffer quite badly from vertigo. Even standing on a ladder is a challenge for me, but abseiling looked like fun on paper and I really wanted to overcome my fear of heights so I wanted to give it a go. When I arrived at the Urban Rush office on the 17th floor I got my safety briefing and was able to practise abseiling on a mini-wall inside their office. This was extremely helpful as I have never done abseiling before. It all seemed to be fine up to that point.
After a few practise runs the staff asked me if I was ready to do the proper abseil, at which stage I was still relatively calm. You can do the abseiling face-first or backwards and as I am not Spiderman, despite what some people in Huacachina think, I decided to go with the less scary option – backwards. The staff attached me to the rope and harness and hooked me up.
When they asked me to take a step backward onto the ledge of the open door, I was suddenly filled with sheer terror. For the first time I saw how high the drop was. I didn’t like the thought of going backwards up on a very narrow step at all because I couldn’t really see where I was stepping and I was terrified that I would miss the step and just tumble down the building. It took a lot of encouragement from the three members of staff to get me to take the first step and when I was finally in place my whole body started trembling with fear. All of the sudden 50m looked very high indeed! :-/
So as if that wasn’t enough for my scared little self, I now had to lean back and take my first step down the building’s exterior. At that stage I was really freaking out and I must confess the odd swearword may have slipped out of my mouth. I found it very hard to trust the rope to hold my whole body weight. I have to say that if it hadn’t been for the superb staff and their constant encouragement I don’t think I would have done it, but they really managed to calm me down and before I knew it, my body was dangling in the air supported only by a thin rope and a much welcomed safety rope.
Once I had taken my first step I felt such a great sense of relief. As soon as I had overcome my initial fear the actual act of abseiling was a lot of fun. I felt like a spy in a Hollywood action movie! Within a few minutes I reached the point from where I would have to do the free-fall to the ground. I let go of the rope and plummeted down a further 10m to the ground where my guide was waiting for me. I have never been so relieved to have firm ground under my feet again!
I have done some scary things in my life, from the Everest Base Camp trek, to mountain biking through a leech infested jungle, and even eating a tarantula, but I have never done anything as scary as this. I really had to push myself hard but I was so relieved once I had done it and really proud that I’d conquered one of my biggest fears.
So guys, what do you reckon? Would you abseil down this building or have you done something similar before?
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Disclaimer: Thanks to Urban Rush for hosting me. This activity was complimentary in return for a review on this blog. As always, all opinions and swearwords used throughout the experience are my own.