Clint and I excitedly tightened our Swiss seats as we looked over the cliff edge, feeling like kids getting ready for their first roller-coaster ride. It was the hot August of 1993 in the middle of Guatemala. The Guatemalan Kaibil (Army ‘Ranger’) instructors were tying the rappelling ropes to a large boulder at the top of the cliff.
There would be no belay, no practice, and no instruction for this rappelling practice. There would be no emergency personnel or equipment in case of an accident. Just the way we we liked it – gung ho and high speed! One instructor checked how we had run the ropes through our carabiners and gave us the go ahead. Normally I would have been very careful and slowly gone over the edge, but the atmosphere was so charged with adrenaline that Clint and I bounced out over the precipice. I was singing the “Eyes of Texas” at the top of my lungs. We pushed off the rock face as we descended without care and probably a bit too fast. Now this was living!
The cliff was overhung so that halfway down we were hanging free and Clint and I raced down side-by-side to the bottom. We were laughing, but got our right gloves off as fast as possible – they were smoking! The rope friction was a bit much on our uninsulated leather gloves, burning our hands. We unclipped and started the run around and up the long path to the top of the cliff for another rappel. Off the path a ways I saw something white in the rocks and scrub brush. I called out for Clint to wait and ran over to find an A-cup padded bra lying there in the Guatemalan sun. Odd, but perfect! I ripped the old bra in half and ripped off the straps. “Come on, man! What are you doing? Let’s go!” I looked up at Clint and grinned, stuffing one bra cup into my right-hand glove over my palm. The light turned on in Clint’s eyes and he reached for the other cup. “Gimme that!” I handed him the welcome piece of padding with a smile and we were off up the path for more rappelling with a bit less heat on our hands. This time we would go Australian style!