Training for the Shoot
Behind the Scenes of Rock Stars with Crew
Working a lot of events in what some consider the non-traditional sports realm, I’d say I’m used to being in odd situations. However, even this may be a bit out of that realm. Usually there’s somewhat of an idea of what I maybe getting myself into, but when I received a call saying it would be a week of rope training in Vegas, then flying straight to Niagara Falls, I admit I had some questions. What exactly is this rope training and where are we going to be hanging from at the falls?? I’ve never climbed using ropes and last time I was at Niagara Falls I think I was still in Underoos so the obvious answer was, “I’m in.”
Once landing in Las Vegas for ropes access training, we met up with the rest of the crew for a beer or two and determined that no one exactly knew what this “rope training” was all about, other than it sounds fun.
Monday morning felt almost like the first day of school when you’re a kid, a bit of excitement mixed with a slight bit of apprehension. The cab ride there almost took a wrong turn but luckily Shaulzy recognized a couple “landmarks” and got us back on the right track. Once we got there, the gang was all together; Cliff Hake, Will Barratt, Pierce Williams, J Ward and a new addition, climber Dave.
The RAT training facility there looked like a cross between backstage at a concert and a Cirque Du Soleil audition stage, lots of truss structures and ropes going everywhere. I started to get an idea of what was up, but in reality I still no idea. That was about to change.
After a couple quick signatures signing our life away, instructor Jerry gave us the whirlwind rundown of all things SPRAT…ropes, shunts, weight limits, knots, safety, etc…. Once again, I got that first day of school feeling. I’m starting to get lost, except here there’s no drop/add option so you better pay attention. After the classroom session, we move out to the training warehouse to start working with the gear, which should make it easier since we can actually try the gear in practice and not just in theory.
Climber Dave is not only our safety guy in Niagara, he’s also helping with the instruction as Jerry describes how things work and Dave gives some demos. With the proper gear, it all looks easy. Dave shimmies up like a monkey and so does Cliff Hake – he’s the exception on the crew, homeboy already has a full climbing kit and almost enough knowledge to teach parts of this course himself. It’s a mixed bag of stories for the rest of us though.
The training was quite a humbling experience for me. Instead of going straight up the ropes, I was spinning in circles and breaking out in a sweat. So far, day one isn’t quite over and it’s already- ropes 1, Baade 0.
What did I get myself into?