Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just Hanging 'round

We did some more rappelling practice recently.  I've been going down the cliffs in our NW corner but wanted to try an actual nest site cliff in preparation for the upcoming peregrine take.  Falcons don't always nest where I want them to, and you have to be prepared to deal with where they actually are, rather than picking a cliff that you like.  So, it was off to some cliffs on a neighbor's property.  My fellow elder and church member, Eric Armstrong, went along.  He's a physical therapist and, well, it never hurts to have a medically trained guy along when dangling off ropes on cliffs.

First, you gotta get to the cliff.

The view from the top.

Getting over the lip is usually the hardest part!

We picked out an old raven nest as a target.  The ravens have an active nest on this cliff, but it's around the corner and we didn't bother them.  I really thought there should be a prairie falcon on this cliff, but a look several weeks ago didn't show anything.  However, while hiking up to the top, a male prairie came overhead and checked us out.  Even though I'm after a peregrine this year, I think I'll swing back by here in early June and see if I can't find prairies, just for future reference.

Heading down the cliff.

At the nest- empty, but recently used.
This was a good exercise as I remembered how tricky it can be to ascend on the rope in a real situation.  Again, the rock I've been practicing on is flat and smooth and pretty easy.  The nest cliff was full of holes and out-croppings.  Holes are tricky because there's nothing to brace against and you spin and have to hold yourself up against the rope when ascending.  It's physically tiring.  Out-crops are tough because the rope lies flat on the rock and you can't get the ascenders under it.  I tried un-clipping one ascender and re-clipping it higher up on the rope, but then I realized that I was held to the rope by just 1 ascender and I didn't like that very much.  I made it back to the top (twice), but ascending over out-crops is something I need to work on.

Back at home, and a few weeks later, I wanted to try a few things with my shunt.  The shunt is a device that clips to the rope and can act as a self-locker.  When held open, the rope goes thru, but when released, it locks on the rope.  This allows you to stop and rest or to hang on the rope,  hands-free.  I've been clipping the shunt to my leg loop and I wanted to see how well that work out should I find myself upside down or in a bad situation.  We have an 8' tall storage container that's perfect for practicing.

Look Ma!  No hands!
Here's the shunt attached to my leg loop
 After hanging upside down a few times and even unclipping my descender and using just the shunt, I decided that I didn't like being clipped to the leg loop.  It held, but it really pull down on my leg and throws me off-balance.  So, I moved the shunt to my main harness loop:

Shunt (R) clipped to main loops
I liked this a lot better for several reasons.  The pull is on the middle of the harness, the rope is closer to the center of balance, it doesn't get in the way, and it just feels better to hold it centered than off on one leg.  So, this is the way I'll be running the shunt. 

As far as the actual peregrines go, we checked on them again and the female was still incubating, so we've got 2-3 weeks to go still.

News on David- results from the bone-marrow biopsy show that his bones are making blood.  That's good news.  There are still some tests to come back and then we'll see if there are toxins involved here or what else might be going on.  At this point, it seems that we've moved into hemolytic anemia territory where his spleen is the issue.  That also is good news because a partial splenectomy is a fairly safe and fairly successful treatment for hemolytic anemia.  But again, we're waiting on some tests.  In any case, the plan is use transfusions to keep his blood levels up until we get a more permanent cure.  He certainly has been happier and had a much better appetite since his 1st transfusion. 

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