Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
The Emerald Greens Golf Course is tucked away in the abounding woods and quiet, sun-drenched fields of North St. Louis County, allowing players to replace workaday worries with bent-grass greens and scenic vistas. The par 70 course is divided into distinctly different front and back nine's, with outward fairways cutting confounding doglegs through thick forest, and an inward route strewn with water hazards demanding precise tee shots and modest ransom to Poseidon. Four sets of tees make the course challenging for players of all abilities, from a first hole marked by a troublesome right-hand side to the 18th hole, a 506-yard par 5 bound by ponds on either side of its narrow fairway. As the 6,000-plus-yard course winds through the club's 365 acres of wilderness, golfers are often greeted by deer, fox, and feral golf carts flocking from the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
On a normal day at Climb So iLL, climbers scale a giant eyeball, a purple elephant, and a giant tulip reaching toward the sky. These structures, inspired by Lewis Carroll and created by an architectural firm, reflect the gym’s unique aesthetic and a whimsical vision. The walls range in color from slate gray to bright purple, and accent lighting adds to snaking mezzanine levels and a well-stocked pro shop. The gym's modern design, which includes countertops and shop displays crafted from bamboo and recycled car hoods, blends into the original brick interior of the old power plant—from which designers salvaged steel and other debris to fashion the interior.
On each guest's first visit, a staff member escorts them around the facility to get them acquainted with safety protocol. Climbers scale 40 top ropes hung down from walls reaching up to 55 feet, along with smooth angles and overhangs across varied bouldering terrain. In a members-only 24-hour training zone open to all climbers during the day, they can practice navigating small overhangs and other problems. On-site personal trainers and instructors also help hone skill and movement techniques through basic belaying and lead climbing classes. An accredited route-setting team regularly tampers with the gym's routes to keep climbers alert and extra gecko-like. An advanced ventilation system circulates and cools the air by maintaining a constant indoor pressure, and tall windows and skylights keep vertical pathways well-lit.
With more than 11 years of cross-country dance experience, Almas Del Ritmo Dance Company LLC's artistic director and certified Zumba instructor Carmen Guynn promotes cultural awareness during a range of Latin and Afro-Caribbean dance classes, including Zumba, salsa, and bachata. The dance haven derives its name from the Spanish words for soul and rhythm, which Guynn hopes will inspire her students to summon their inner selves on the dance floor without toting along heavy x-ray machines. In addition, the studio donates money to charities such as International Crisis Aid, Feed the City, and the Ronald McDonald House.
The rolling Missouri countryside serves as the backdrop for Eagle Springs Golf Course, where players test their swings across a 27-hole golf complex. A par 72 when played from the back tees, Eagle Springs' 18-hole course stretches across 6,549 yards of undulating fairways, tricky sand-trap placements, and relatively large, hard-to-read greens. Though it has a predominantly parkland-style layout, ponds come into play on five holes, keeping golfers on their toes and tempting underused caddies to dive after balls in hopes of earning respect. Eagle Springs' nine-hole, par 3 course invites golfers to hone their short-game skills across a 1,270-yard layout.
Views of the course abound from the Clubhouse Restaurant, which serves a full lunch and dinner menu. For golfers hoping to snag a bite at the turn, a snack bar provides fairway smoothies and snacks including danishes, muffins, hot dogs, and egg sandwiches.
Championship Course at a Glance:
Marauding monsters and startling special effects thrill visitors wandering through the winding limestone caverns beneath Lemp Mansion in what HauntWorld.com called “one of the most unique and realistic haunts we've ever reviewed.” Speed passes whisk visitors past tedious lines through the gothic 1860s mansion’s ornate gates and eerie archways to a century-old freight elevator. The historic conduit drops visitors 50 feet below street level into the damp St. Louis underground, the former site of Lemp’s brewery that was abandoned more than 100 years ago due to workers’ constant bickering over the difference between stalactites and stalagmites. Rusty pipes and ancient relics of machinery decorate the musty caverns as visitors wind through 20,000 square feet of intense audio, strobe lights, fog, and moving floors. High-tech animatronics, including a massive mechanical alligator, bide their time along with hideous beasts, corpses, brawling zombie gangsters, rats, bats, and lost members of the Milwaukee Brewers. To escape, visitors must eventually scale a towering staircase to the safety of the surface while quelling urges to check whether Eurydice is behind them.