Table Mountain: Abseil Off South Africa's Ubiquitous Landmark - Page 2

Gorp.com
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All the way to Antarctica: the view from atop
Table Mountain (Nathan Borchelt)

"Dope on a Rope" is the slogan for Abseil Africa, and when you peer over the edge of the 367-foot drop, if anything dope seems like a compliment. Completely insane seems far more apt, and the harness, gloves, and helmet offer little reassurance. But once you realize that you're not going anywhere unless you want to, once the mountaintop slides from view, it's a heavenly, weightless sensation. The noise and commotion of the tourist hordes all over Table Mountain dissolve into a silence that marries perfectly with the surrounding beauty: the pinnacle known as Lion's Head rises to your left; the expanse of Cape Town and the blue Atlantic is below, waves crashing in bursts of white foam. Even your stomach, which had jumped into your throat during those first few steps down the cliff face, goes back to where it belongs.

Fifteen minutes after my feet had left the cliff's edge, I touched solid ground, freed myself of the harness, and tried to calm my heartbeat before hiking back up to the top. The experience is a rush, but the speed of the descent is not. The abseil harness-and-rope system, if anything, is almost too secure; I had to literally push the rope through the feed until I got near the bottom, where my weight started doing a bit of the work. But the leisurely pace makes you feel in control. Stopping to snap pictures and a hands-free dangle mid-descent are requisite. Howling while you do so is optional.

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