For a group of 43 men and women, both teenagers and middle-aged, it was a exhilarating experience as they rappelled down the 450-foot high Katika waterfalls, a few kilometres from the famous tourist spot Borra caves in the hilly and forest area of Visakha Agency in the district.
Rappelling is an adventure sport in which the participant descends along a flat and vertical surface, mostly a cliff or a wall, with the help of a rope secured to the top. The participant puts on the safety gear to control his or her fall with the rope and one or two on the top too controls the participant’s fall. All care is taken about the safety of the participant.
Youth Hostels’ Association of India and the Vizag Sports Journalists Association (ViSJA) organised rappelling several years ago along a 50-feet-high vertical rock on the hill near Hanumantawaka but at Katika it was a different experience for the participants. For Sub-Inspector of Police of Anantagiri Srinivasa Rao and a kabbadi coach M. Umamaheswara Babu and others it was a thrilling experience. “We have undergone training in crossing various types of obstacles during our training period but this was a totally different and exciting experience”, said the young Mr. Srinivasa Rao. He also noted that one must have a lot of strength in his or her forearms to do the rappelling since the entire body weight has to be controlled by the hands as one descends.
Mr. Umamaheswara Babu too said the same. “Your feet touch the hard rock sometimes and suddenly you are hanging in the air. Getting drenched in the water fall is inevitable and when you are sure of getting a foothold it will be the slippery rock that meets you,” he described his experience.
Chairman of YHAI State unit Ch. Sreenivasa Prasad, in his early sixties, is an enthusiastic man. This is a very difficult feat, said the man with many rappelling expeditions behind him, about Katika waterfalls.
The rope along which the participants rappels down is secured to two trees and boulders on the top of the waterfalls and considering the difficulty in doing rappelling here, another additional rope was run. At least three experienced persons are on the top as a participant rappels down to control and guide him or her.
Chairman of Adventure Promotion Committee of YHAI State branch K. Ranga Rao, who planned and executed many adventure expeditions and considered as an authority in the field said Katika posed many challenges considering its location and the height of the water falls but his eight-member team completed the task of a safe and exciting rappelling for all the participants. Secretary of State YHAI and also of ViSJA N. Nageswara Rao coordinated the programme.
“We have created a world record in the past at Katika in nine categories of participants-from the youngest participants to number of participants (25). This time we have done better and have applied for a set of another records,” Mr. Ranga Rao announced.
It is in the categories of highest number of participants -- 43; normal rappelling by 32; blindfold rappelling by eight; oldest person (Mr. Sreenivasa Prasad); a police officer; reverse rappelling by one person-K. Mallesh and reverse body rappelling by Mr. Mallesh in 3 minutes 20 seconds, which is a world record.
Those who have done blind fold rappelling were R. Naveen Kumar (2:37 seconds), T. Purushottam (2:42), Mahesh Kumar (3:32), Hemanth Kumar (3:37), R. Rajender Kumar (3:40), P. Bhagath (4:30), P. Chandu (4:21) and K. Mallesh (4:30). YHAI vice-president K. Bhaskara Rao, treasurer A. Pundarikaksha, ViSJA vice-president Umamaheswara Babu, treasurer P. Bhaskar, member Satyanarayana, Kiran, BVK Chaitanya and Kishore and others supported the event. A 45-year-old lady Anita Rao, half-a-dozen students of GITAM University, including two girls participated.