Alaska Cruise Vacation: Rock Climbing in Skagway

So it's our first day in port on our lovely Alaskan cruise, and today we're spending it in Haines and Skagway. (Technically, we docked in Haines, but other than Fort Seward and some really fine local microbreweries, there isn't really much else to see in Haines. Don't get me wrong-the town is lovely, and no disrespect to any Hainesians (Haineinites?) out there, but it's small. And mostly fishing and fort-related, which isn't really my bag. But luckily Skagway is only a quick hop on the local ferry, so we scrambled on board and off we went to wild Alaskan adventure).

By the way, today's adventure is rock climbing, which neither of us have ever tried, but Tony thought might be fun, so he signed us up.

(I hear you out there. You're all like, "Wait. Isn't this the guy who has a fear of heights? The one that won't even climb up on the roof to help with the Christmas lights? Isn't rock climbing kind of a weird hobby for a guy who won't ascend past the third rung of a step ladder? What gives?")

Valid questions, Interpeeps. Valid questions. And to that I say, I KNOW! He had me totally duped too! Either Tony is a mad phobia conquering champion (which he totally could be, because that is just how awesome he is) or dude was all, "How can I get out of detangling 500 strands of icicle lights and then spending three hours hanging them up outside in the cold?" (which I also wouldn't put past him).

It is a Christmas mystery.

Not to mention totally off topic.

Mystery aside, let me just say that rock climbing? AWESOME! We booked with a group that picked us up in Skagway, popped us into a van, gave us a guided tour through the city and up into the mountains, did a quick safety talk, and then tethered us to some unsuspecting rock cliffs and told us to go to town. At which point Tony unleashed his inner mountain goat and scampered right to the top, first try.
The boy has mad skillz, I tell you.
Of course, not to be outdone, I got up close and personal with some quality quartz too.

Do not let these pictures fool you. There is no leaning angle to that rock. That is straight up and down Cliffs of Insanity, baby. Luckily, the tour group provides special rock gripping rubber shoes, and when they say that you can stand on a ledge the thickness of the edge of a dime, they mean it. The hardest part was just trusting the shoes, cause it certainly didn't look like there was much there.Up, up and away!

After climbing to the top of the cliff face (note, not at all like the climbing wall in the gym, in case you were wondering), you gave a victory cry and then rappelled your way back down. Basically, you lean back in your harness and just bounce your way back down the cliff with your legs straight. Letting go of the rock face for the first time had my heart going roughly 80 bajillion beats per second, but once I did it, I couldn't wait to do it again. As a matter of fact, I went back up and down the cliff 4 times.

Does this harness make my butt look big?

After the thrill of scampering up and down the cliffs like Spiderman began to wear off, our happy guides took us higher up the trail to another rappelling spot- even higher, and sheerer, and 800-bajillion-beats-per-second-er. And this time they were like, "Instead of climbing, we want you to just hang out into space from this cliff face 75 feet above the ground and THEN bounce your way down".

So I did.

(You wouldn't think it would make a difference, climbing up and rappelling down versus not using your hands and just leaning out into space, but it does. For this one, you put your toes on the edge and just sit backwards into nothingness. Talk about your adrenaline rush. I'm smiling, but I tell you, if there had been anything in my bladder at the time this picture was taken, it would have been raining on the people below).

Look Mom! No hands! Or bladder control!

Still, two thumbs up for rock climbing. I'm not sure I'll come back home and immediately sign up for my local climbing chapter (yet), but it was definitely something I enjoyed. And kudos to Tony for manning up and showing his phobia who was boss. This definitely counts as Alaskan adventure.