Ensign Christopher Caldwell - Peak performance

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Chris M

Feb 24, 2024, 3:42:46 PMFeb 24
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(( Old Turbolift Shaft, Deck 8 - Aft, USS Astraeus ))

A few hours since he'd decided to escape Groznik, his garrulous Denobulan roommate, under the guise of having to run some reports, which were in fact nothing more a pair of distress signals to both Esa Kiax and Sylvie Doucet whilst he actually just went for a random walk. He'd had a message from Lieutenant Commander Peters inviting him to a climb the next day. If it hadn't been for Cadfael mentioning it, Christopher wasn't sure how long it would have taken for him to find out that there was a disused turbolift shaft on the same deck as his quarters that had been converted into a multideck climbing wall.

The last time he'd done any real mountaineering was Maxwell Montes on Venus during survival exercises as part of his Academy training. With that exception it had been years since he'd gone for a proper climb. 

He entered the turbolift shaft finding Lieutenant Commander Peters already there waiting for him. Christopher was in his duty uniform, once more using work as an excuse to escape.

Caldwell: Morning sir... Cadfael.

It was going to take him a little longer to get used to being comfortable addressing a senior officer by their first name, especially one three ranks above him.

Peters: Welcome in, Chris. This is a little gem I thought you’d find interesting. 

He saw the chief engineer had come equipped with appropriate climbing gear, enough for two. Christopher proceeded to remove his uniform jacket, folding it neatly and setting it down on the floor, leaving him in the form fitting black uniform undershirt.

Peters: Climbing wall built by Lt. Commanders Toryn Raga & Esa Kaix, with a bit of help from the engineers.

He looked up the turbolift shaft, a number of slabs, overhangs and edges had been created within the shaft and he could see a range of different coloured modular holds, in white, blue, yellow and red denoting a series of overlapping climbing routes of varying different difficulty levels. 

Caldwell: It looks impressive, especially for a custom job ::walking over to one of the walls and checking one of the holds:: it's all been checked right?

Peters: Not to worry, I made sure it was safe from an engineering standpoint at each phase of the project. We’ll be fine.

He checked another couple of holds, not that he doubted the chief engineer's word but he wanted to get a feel for the holds, the level of grip they offered, if there was any give or shift in them that he'd need to take into account.

Caldwell: This really does look like great work. Have you ever given it a try?

He looked to Peters as he retrieved and started to put one of the harnesses, spying a series of auto belaying devices arranged higher up the wall and attached to a horizontal track that ran across the wall. There was a mid-sized computer panel integrated into the wall which presumably controlled the auto descenders.

Peters: Not yet. My instructor transferred before I got around to lessons. Never tried rock climbing before, so I’m a bit paranoid about breaking my neck.

Caldwell: Ok well not to worry, it's pretty simple really. The descenders up there ::gesturing higher up the wall:: they work as an automatic belay device, a hanging belay, so you don't have to worry about someone else holding onto one end of the rope for you. Basically it makes sure that the line you are connected to via your harness, it's loose when you're in motion but tenses whenever you're not moving. 

He stopped talking for a moment, studying the control panel.

Caldwell: Ok so there are few presets and some customisation options but I'm sure the default controls are fine. They are usually set so if you fall off the wall the line makes sure you come to a gradual stop whilst ensuring you don't drop too far. As I say though you'll be able to customise the settings if you want so you'll be able to set it so you don't even drop at all, the moment you come off the wall you'll just hang there if you want, a little drop is usually a good thing though, encourages you not to screw up if you have to make your way back up a little. With me so far?

Peters: I think so. Next question: why are they multi-colored?

Caldwell: Ok, well the different coloured holds are for different difficulties. White is for beginners, then you've got blue, then yellow and red will be the expert routes. You've got a few different routes for each difficulty from the looks of it and they all intercross at various different points. The belay is on a track so it will make sure it's always lined up with you so we don't have to worry about our lines crossing. So, do you want to play it safe or go in at the deep end?

Peters: Given that I have no idea what I’m doing, I think playing it safe would be best.

He watched as Peters looked up towards the array of belays high up upon their horizontal track.

Peters: So if the belay wasn’t present, one of us would need to hold the other person’s line, right? Or…how is that supposed to work?

Caldwell: Without the automatic belay one of us would belay the climber, giving out slack, supporting the climber if they fall and lowering the climber once they've finished. Of course there is always the option of being super brave and not using any harness or line at all but free climbing the shaft is unlikely to be a good idea.

Peters: Ah, I see. Did you know that there’s actually an extreme sports club on board?

Caldwell: As a matter of fact I did not know that... but how did you know that? I thought you were meant to be out of the loop with the social clubs on this ship?

The Lieutenant Commander shrugged in response.

Peters: Nevermind. I’ll tell ya about it later. What say we start climbing, hm? After you.

Caldwell: Sure thing. So to get started you just need to unclip a line and attach it to your harness. Like this.

He approached a rigid triangular plasticized board that was built into the wall, the board was largely non-descript other than a couple of hand holds on the left and ride sides, at the point of the triangle was a clip that had the line to the automatic belay attached to it. He unclipped it leaving the line hanging there, gripped the hand holds and pulled the board down onto the floor then clipped the line to his harness. 

Peters: Response

He knew the engineer would be able to work a simple clip but was mindful of the fact that he'd never done this before so he might benefit from some reassurance.

Caldwell: That's it, you got it. Nothing to it, now, whatever happens, you're safe. Nothing to worry about.

He was tempted to make a start with one of the red routes but he decided instead to go for the yellow for two reasons, firstly he didn't want Peters to feel in any way bad that he was starting with the beginner difficulty, secondly it wouldn't look very good if he himself fell off. He gripped a yellow handhold, quickly climbing a couple of meters before finding a good point to stop, looking back to check on Peters.

Caldwell: Remember this is meant to be fun, so in your own time.  Remember nothing can go wrong, you're perfectly safe. Once you get up a couple of meters, try pushing off from the wall, see what happens.

Peters: Response

Whilst he was sure there wasn't a trust issue between the two of them he realised that asking someone who hadn't climbed before to push off from a wall was a big ask.

Caldwell: Here, like this.

He pushed away from the wall, the tension in the line, near instantly adjusting ensuring that he didn't drop, instead he just hung there. Spreading his arms making it clear that it was only the line and the harness keeping him suspended, a grin on his face, appreciating how ridiculous he probably looked suspended in the air. 

Caldwell: See? Nothing to worry about.

Peters: Response


Ensign Christopher Caldwell
Helm Officer
USS Astraeus, NCC-70652
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