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2019 Bridge Day Rappel

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27 Rappel Teams Selected For 2019 Bridge Day


Twenty-seven teams have been selected for this year’s 2019 Bridge Day Rappel:  This

will be the most rappel teams ever to participate on a Bridge Day.  There are three new teams

this year.  Fayette County native Debra Parker will be leading a 1st ever all female team.  Long

time safety team member Talia Sepiol will have her own team this year, the Berserkers.  And

David Obi has the UDK team.  Over three hundred rappellers will be participating in this year’s

Bridge Day Rappel.


2019 Bridge Day Rappel Teams


Anchor Team Leader
1 Chics With Nice Racks! Debra Parker
2 Extreme Rappels 1 Michael Phelps
3 Canadian Fire Tony Macdonald
4 Berserkers Talia Sepiol
5 Spread ‘Em and Drop Matthew S Vickey
6 Northern Y-knots Scott R Young
7 Born Rescue Riggers Russ Born
8 Monongahela Grotto Brian Masney
9 Chattanooga Grotto Patrick Wilson
10 Safety Team Glen Kuehner
11 The TAG Team Darien Dopp
12 Extreme Rappels 2 John Cadle
13 VBATS 2 Harold Calvert
14 Highline Larry Smith
15 S B Rescue Group Jon Tobin
16 Black Swamp Brigade Ken Adams
17 OHKY Greg Matulionis
18 High-Hangin’ Hoosiers Dean Wiseman
19 Ohio SRT Carl Swanigan
20 Team Poseidon Victoria Airey
21 UDK David Obi
22 A Frayed Knot Don Straw
23 Derby City Descenders Davod Sjoeds
24 Extreme Rappels 3 Andrew Rentzel
25 Vertically Inclined Neil Gregory
26 VBATS 1 Mike TinY Manke
27 US Rope Access John Haustein


Bridge Day is held annually on the third Saturday in October to commemorate the

October 1977 completion of the New River Gorge Bridge.  The New River Gorge Bridge is the

3nd longest single arch bridge in the world.  The Bridge is the 3rd highest bridge in the United

States and the 13th highest bridge in the world.  The New River Gorge Bridge is 876’ above the

New River, the 2nd oldest river in the world.  Bridge Day is one of the top 100 festivals in North

America, and West Virginia’s largest one day festival.  Saturday, October 19, 2019, will be the

40th Bridge Day.  It has been estimated that Bridge Day brings more than $3,000,000+ into the

southern West Virginia economy each year.


The rappel teams will rappel distances between seven hundred and eight hundred and

fifty feet depending on their respective anchor on the catwalk of the New River Gorge Bridge.

Anchors 1 and 2 have the farthest rappel.

This year there will be four ascending ropes giving more rappellers the opportunity to

ascend or climb the rope.  Dr. Peter Hertl of Raleigh, North Carolina supervises the

ascending ropes.

Glen Kuehner, from Florida, will return as the Bridge Day Rappel Safety Officer.  This

will be his eighth year as the leader of the Safety Team.

Benjy Simpson and his son, Benjy III, and their adventure company, Passages To

Adventure, have been coordinating the Bridge Day rappel since 1992; 29 years.

The Bridge Day High Line was first done in 1994.  It started again in 2001 and has been

done every Bridge Day since; 19 total years.  The High Line gives the general public the

opportunity to be a Bridge Day participant.  Both rappelling and BASE jumping require

equipment, training, and experience.  No experience is required for the high line.  The age

range for the high line has been from 8 to 76.  There are limited spaces available for the High

Line.  The high line is $155 per person plus tax, $164.30.  The price includes a shuttle back to

the top of the Bridge.  Register on line at www.bridgedayrappel.com.


Larry Smith and his team will be rigging the High Line.  Smith has been helping with the

High Line for fifteen years; twelve years as the team leader.

Bridge Walk will be offering shortened catwalk tours during Bridge Day.  The Bridge Walk

guests meet on the north end of the Bridge.  After safety instructions, putting on a harness, and

attaching to the safety system, the guests walk to the center of the Bridge and watch BASE

jumpers glide and/or fall beneath them.  Many guests bring cameras and take panoramic photos

of the beautiful fall vista of the New River Gorge as well as the BASE jumpers.  Reservations

can be made by calling Bridge Walk 304 574-1300.  The cost is $84 plus tax.

As it has been done every year since 9/11, Bridge Day will begin and end with the raising

and lowering of the American and West Virginia flags.  Each year two rappellers have ascended

a rope with the American flag between the two climbers and the West Virginia flag below the

second climber.  At 3 pm, after the last BASE jumper has left the New River Gorge Bridge, two

rappellers rappel with the two flags.  Extreme Rappels, Michael Phelps, from Ohio, and Todd

Handley, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, have been coordinating the flags since 2001; seventeen

years.  The best location to see both the raising and lowering of our flags is from below the


For information about the New River Gorge Bridge Day Rappel, the high line, Bridge Walk, and Bridge Day

www.bridgedayrappel.com (rappel and high line) 304 574-1037


www.bridgewalk.com 304 574-1300




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