The First Few Days with Blue Ridge Expeditions

By Missy Schenck

The BRXers took it to the rock yesterday and had a great time. The day before they came to base camp and used the low ropes challenge course to help them come together as a group. There was a lot of cheering and some great teamwork displayed. When asked what they learned from this experience they had a fabulous response of “together when we use our strengths we can accomplish so much more than we can individually.”

They then used the climbing tower to get excitement up for their trip to the rock and to allow for those interested in learning to belay to do so. There was a lot of interest from this group with over half of the group being checked off to be able to belay each other. It is very exciting to see BRXers belaying each other.

Yesterday was a tremendous success climbing on rock at Big Bradley. One of the best parts was watching everyone cheering each other on. At the hardest climb, that we have dubbed “the humbler”- the energy went from good to electric when one Expeditioner made it to the crux end beyond. Imagine being at a sporting event when the crowd is all focused and trying to will their team to victory. This was the first time that a BRXer has made it to the top of this particular climb. It was also exciting that another Expeditioner was belaying them.

There are three climbs set up. One allows for most participants to have success in getting to the top. It can be climbed in a number of ways, so climbers can test out making it slightly harder or easier. The next climb has two crux points and then finishes with a very aesthetic dihedral. This climb has a lower success rate as far as getting to the top, but provides lots of fun and a different experience than climb one. The third climb is the “humbler,” where climbers have a great time but will rarely complete a third of it.

After climbing the group came to base camp where they played ultimate frisbee amongst themselves then with several basecampers during free time. They stayed for the July 4th cookout and firework display- which was AWESOME!

Today is survival day. They will be spending time learning primitive skills, such as cordage, fire by friction, and carving a wooden spoon. They will also be practicing survival skills, and navigation skills. Tonight they will be very lucky to be joined by Phil and Rachel the managers of GRP’s sustainable agriculture project for a harvest dinner. This is always a fun night for them and has the group in a wonderfully festive space with music and singing.

Stephen