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.
What services does your business offer and what makes your business stand out from the competition?
Irish Hills Riding Academy offers safe lesson horses of various levels; riding instructor with 20 years experience; & choice of English or western lesson. Barn at new location is well insulated & heated. We are part of Queenwood Stables, home of many world champions.
What is the experience customers can expect?
Lessons are individualized to each rider level and personal goals. Each lesson includes tacking up, riding for 30 minutes, & cooling out. The riding portion includes warm up, stretches, new riding skill, review, and cool down.
What was the inspiration to start or run this business?
I'm a horse lover. I enjoy teaching riding lessons. I get a satisfaction when my students meet their individual riding goals.
What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy the opportunity to work with horses and people together. I get meet lots of interesting people of all ages. It stays interesting, because each person learns differently.
It's more likely that Illinois River Winery founder and winemaker Gregg Kane is out in the field or tinkering in the wine lab than in the chair behind his desk. Thanks to his hard work, the winery's tasting room offers a selection of more than 30 varietals daily, from crisp, dry wines with vibrant acidity to wet wines known for their unique ability to quickly soak into a shirt. During warmer months, grab a glass and head out to the patio, where live music sweetly serenades sippers every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.