It was a week-long class, that I had taken but a few days earlier, 40 hours of being shown how to properly tie off, build anchors and climb and rappel off fixed static ropes. It had been but a few days earlier that I passed the class and got my SPRAT certification that allowed me to legally do what I had done in my youth, but much safer.
I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning that day in July to get to the first job site. I got to New Jersey to the office at a bit after, loaded the truck with ropes and gadgets and we headed out; the destination an hour north to the Newburgh walkway over the Hudson river. We were to rappel down the side and to take pictures of the legs of the bridge and to document any areas that had rusted so badly that it would affect the integrity of the bridge.
We need to be all attached to two separately anchored points at all times, redundancy, the points need to hold 5000 lbs each and need to be protected from sharp edges so the ropes don’t get cut, common sense? The concept is simple and it makes sense always to have a backup line. I guess my days of free climbing buildings in queens and hanging out on top of buildings after dark for fun are over (maybe). So we build anchors off the beams under the railing and lower down the ropes 200 feet to the base of the bridge. I rappel down take pictures while in awe of dangling 200 feet up over the Hudson River, the only thing going through my mind… Am I really getting paid for this?!? It almost made sunburn and the frustrating hour getting the ropes untangled from the beams and trees due to the high winds worth it.