When students sign on for a Rock About climbing class, they don't just learn to rope their way up mountainsides and trade banter with goats. The company's certified guides also educate clients about the cultural history and complex geology of the climbing sites. On climbing treks to Reimers Ranch Park, owner Adam Mitchell and his team teach top-roping and belaying techniques while exploring the notion that climbing allows humankind to commune safely with the earth's natural wonders. For those uneasy about vertical exploration, the guides offer non-climbing adventures such as interpretive hikes.
The low-hanging branches of southern live oak trees stretch out over the house and pavilion areas at Don Strange Ranch, dappling parties, weddings, and corporate team gatherings with splashes of sunlight. Since 1952, the 125-acre longhorn ranch in the Texas Hill Country has hosted myriad events, including scenes from the PBS music documentary series Live from the Artists Den and the wedding of country music stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.
More than just a picturesque backdrop, the ranch?s rugged natural surroundings host outdoor activities such as ropes courses and kayak trips down the Guadalupe River. And the friendly staffers who man 350- to 400-foot ziplines work to ease guests out of their comfort zones, like a mother bird pushing her young out of the nest for their first extreme base-jumping lesson.
Over the course of 90?120 minutes, visitors on one of Wimberley Zipline Adventures' tours will see the canyons, creeks, and valleys of Texas Hill Country in an entirely new way. Namely, they'll take it all in while soaring as high as 100 feet above the ground at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. The tour features 10 different ziplines, which collectively add up to roughly 1 mile of cable strung between the landscape's hillsides, and are individually as long as 900 feet.
These adrenaline-boosting tours don't require any previous ziplining experience, and the guides take the time to ensure that everyone understands all of the safety guidelines with a "flight school" session at the beginning of each tour. In addition to familiarizing everyone with the equipment and describing what to expect, the guides include educational tips at each stop on the tour that provide valuable insight into the Wimberley area's plants, wildlife, and history.
After moving to San Antonio, avid climber Mark Bloyd fell in love with his new home, save for its lack of easy access to indoor climbing. With Climb’s portable 32-foot climbing wall, Mark found a way to share his love of aerial antics while accumulating funds to one day open his own indoor-climbing gym. Built in 2012, the wall includes routes for all levels of experience, which allows even beginners to feel the boost of confidence that comes from reaching the summit. Mark can transport the wall to birthday parties, work-related team-building exercises, and chain-gang reunions, where climbers build camaraderie surmounting its sides of synthetic granite. After climbers trace a path to the top using the wall’s hand-holds, they can ring a buzzer to signify their achievement before being lowered back to the ground by automatic belays.
The crew at The District regularly reroute the holds on its climbing walls to keep clients guessing. While music pumps through the gym’s speakers, visitors can try out slacklining—or walking across a wide nylon webbing suspended between two points—and strengthen their arms on punching bags and gymnast rings. The space is open 24 hours a day to fit any schedule and accommodate sleepwalkers.
Growing up in El Paso near Hueco Tanks led Austin Rock Gym owner Troy Wilson to view rock climbing as a way of life. In order to open his own facility he merged his experience running youth climbing programs and gyms with that of his wife and coowner Erica—a Houston native who has spent years scaling New Mexico's rocky ridges. Specializing in bouldering, belaying, and lead climbing, the duo brings mountain terrain indoors at two Austin area locations. The north Austin gym's 30-foot bouldering wall and colorful climbing routes challenge visitors to traverse steep angles, and its top-rope routes let belayed crag clingers scale to the perfect yodeling height. At the south Austin gym, sculpted, 30-foot textured walls loom over a 10,000-square-foot facility, in which climbers can belay, practice lead climbing, or conquer a bouldering cave.
Veteran climbers at each location teach classes and private lessons for rookie rockers 4 and older. In addition to bouldering, lead climbing, and belaying classes, instructors lead women's only sessions and Powerhouse courses that focus on strengthening the body's core. Troy and Tracy's team of experts also guides groups to outdoor climbing venues and lugs a portable rock wall to construction workers no longer challenged by ladders.