Daredevil in a Red Suit

Carrying new honors in his pack, rock climber Travis Weil will play Santa at Chimney Rock Park on Saturday. Photo by Audrey Goforth.

Carrying new honors in his pack, rock climber Travis Weil will play Santa at Chimney Rock Park on Saturday. Photo by Audrey Goforth.

Santa squeezes down an awful lot of chimneys the night before Christmas, but at least the freefall is short, and there are generally cookies and milk at the bottom. Few chimney climbs could be more daunting than the 315-foot vertical drop of Chimney Rock, the monolithic centerpiece of Chimney Rock State Park in Rutherford County.

Sponsored by Fox Mountain Guides, rock climber Travis Weil, playing Santa, will rapell down Chimney Rock for the fifth year this season, as Bold Life confirmed this week via a message to the rarely-inside athlete. The forecast for Weil’s first descent this Saturday, December 5, is clear and brisk. Calling on a tremendous store of holiday energy, he takes the plunge up to seven times a day (and that doesn’t even include the arduous walk back up).

In our feature print story last December about the vibrant rise of rock sports in Transylvania, Henderson, and Rutherford counties, Weil talked about the rigors of rapelling in a Santa suit. “I can’t see much below my belly, and the beard gets in the way,” the climber confessed.

But his yearly feat has not gone unheralded. Since Bold Life ran the piece on Weil, who’s also a certified climbing guide and instructor, he has been declared by Buzzfeed.com as “one of the eight most extreme Santas in the world.”

“Being one of the most extreme Santas is a lot of fun,” says Weil. “I get to use the skills that I use daily for work to entertain people.”

11am-2pm in the upper parking lot, December 5 and 12. Included with park admission. Refreshments, live music, and kids’ activities are part of the fun. www.chimneyrockpark.com, www.boldlife.com/inclined-to-adrenaline. 1-800-277-9611.

 

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