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  • Writer's pictureLydia

Chiao Day 1 - 100m ascend

It is an honor to have the opportunity to compete in Taiwan and more importantly witness how the rope rescue community in Taiwan is so close knit. Everyone was so humble and respectful. We were constantly being showered with gifts from other teams, welcoming us and thanking us for visiting their beautiful country.

Dong Pu Bridge, Nantou Taiwan

Chiao Day 1

The climb is at Dong Pu bridge. It is a free hanging 100m climb. To get to the bottom of the climb, we had to hike 10 minutes with our climbing harness on. Our first challenge was to look for a place to empty our bladders. When you have 100 meter of rope to ascend, any extra weight counts! It was quite a sight seeing all of us squatting into some bush next to the road.

Each team is required to send 6 climbers to tackle this challenge. Susanne and I paired up to go first. We were required to be tethered to each other throughout the entire climb. There were 7 other teams starting this 100m ascend together. The atmosphere was a little intense with some confusion on how and when to start.

Susanne at the start line waiting for gun off

Finally the horn went off. I started off with moderate cadence and small steps. Trying hard to focus on counting and breathing and not keeping up with Susanne. I had to remind myself this is 100m and not the usual 10m - 15m climb where you sprint up and touch the beam.

Each of the 100m ropes are rigged for rescue. Once the time is up, the organizer will lower you down to the ground.

Our setup or shall I say the setup that 99% of the climbers choose for this 100m climb was foot ascender, knee ascender, chest ascender and chest roller. There are many different variations, but that’s the basic setup. We can go into the details of each one on a separate post.

Susanne and myself halfway through the climb

I really love a rope access style speed climb competition. Those where you run to the rope, jump into your chest ascender and hand ascender, sprint up, touch the beam, changeover, descend, uninstall everything and time stops. I love the short sprint, equipment handling, descent just fast enough not to lock the ASAP and get off the ropes! But this long enduring climb with baby steps ate my soul inside out. Deep inside me I want to do this mega sprint but my already heavy legs and empty lungs drags me down like a parachute breaking your fall.

After what indeed felt like forever, we finally made it. I scrambled over to the bridge with whatever that was left inside me and radioed down for the next pair to start climbing. We made it up in about 10 minutes. I nearly fell over as I placed my feet down on the ground while Susanne didn’t even break a sweat!

Next up was Kitana and Brid. Kitana is well prepared for this climb. She had a reservoir of water hanging off her back and a portable speaker off her shoulder. I’m quite sure if it starts raining she would have whipped out an umbrella and finished off the climb dry. Kitana climbed the whole way smiling while feeding Brid water. It is incredible how some can climb this 100m with such poise and grace while I was afraid to remove my sunglasses as people would see my utmost pain and agony!

Brid and Kitana ascending the ropes

When we finally got the funds to fly to Taiwan, we knew we needed a 6th taker for this 100m ascend. Brid who is the team’s casualty is not a rope access technician nor does she have any extensive rope experience. If we are going to fly all this way to Taiwan, it would be a wasted opportunity to not do this 100m climb. With just a month to go, and a lot of sweat, blood and tears, coupled with a long-distance Whatsapp training session along with the support crew of her husband and children, not only did Brid climb this 100m, she did it in a record time of 22min! Asked if she would do it again and she said ‘totally’!

Happy that the 100m is over!

Our last pair to climb is Alia and Saskia. They were the last pair to leave the ground. Pretty demotivating if you ask me but they were like supercharged energizer batteries! They had no one to sit on their ropes to take the bounce out nor did they have anyone left at the bottom to cheer them on. They did however have their eyes on the target which is to pass this other team. All I could see from the top was these moving dots inching closer to this other team and sure enough passed them and left them to eat their dust. Alia and Saskia danced their way up the 100 meters so quickly that I barely had time to take my phone out to film them bringing it home!

Alia and Saskia flying up the rope!

42mins! Well within the allocated time of 45mins.

We survived Day 1 of Chiao!

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