first serious effort was in the form of a Slim Jim special: a
shitty nylon rope and PVC pipe rope ladder. We'd used them in
the past to get into all kinds of places … but never more than
20 feet or so. We hauled the massive rolled up 60 foot ladder
in two parts, through several tunnel systems, and got it assembled
over the course of a couple of hours. I took one look down the
shaft, and said, "no way." But Slim Jim was determined not to
be turned away from our planned descent.
tied his flimsy-looking creation to a pipe about 10 or 15 feet
from the shaft, around a few rough brick corners, and tossed it
over the side. It appeared to be a few feet from the ground. It
also appeared insanely suicidal to think about going down it.
way Slim Jim designs his ladders, the rope is bent at 90 degree
angles against the sharp edge of each PVC pipe rung, and the ropes
would give a real climber fits … simple knots made of all acute
angles. Just looking at the flimsy thing twisting down the shaft
out of sight into the darkness was enough to make a sane man shudder.
how the breaking point of a rope is reached much more quickly
when the rope is subjected to the stresses of tight angled bends,
and that the longer a rope is, the more easily it will snap (think
of how easy it is to break 4 feet of string, versus 2 inches of
string), I was uncharacteristically discouraging. I was not eager
to have to change the part in the "general info" part of the website,
where I mention that "so far, none of us has died." Getting the
police in to get his corpse out would be a real pain in the ass,
too. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I suppose I'd be sad if Crazy Slim
Jim Hollison bought the farm. Heh.
and Morning Star were not very into the plan, either, and it Jim's
effort at making us feel better didn't help us much. Totally serious,
he said, "If I do die, don't feel like it's your fault or anything.
It's totally my decision." Then he more or less told us to tell
his parents not to blame us if he wound up at the bottom of the
shaft with a broken neck and a broken rope ladder in his dead
insisted on tying a rope we'd found in the tunnel to a rusty ringbolt
in the floor and clipped the other end to the back of Jim's belt,
as a back-up in case the ladder broke on the first 20 feet of
the downward trip.