Even The Climbing Life Guides can't quite articulate the feeling of exhilaration when you finally hoist yourself onto a mountain's peak. They describe it as an "ah hah!" moment, one when it's impossible to fight off a grin. And their main goal as guides is to help climbers get there. That's why they take clients on private or group climbs in Joshua Tree National Park, promising breathtaking views of some of the nation's most impressive natural splendor. They'll bring all the equipment and knowledge?climbers just need to bring a thirst for adventure.
Harnessing yourself to a rope and rappelling into a canyon is challenging enough--but what if on the way down, you run into a waterfall? Since 1999, ATS AdventureWorks has prepared students for exactly this type of outdoor challenge, with courses in canyoneering, mountaineering, and rock climbing. Adventurers can also try their hand at these vertical sports on the company's indoor ropes courses, or on guided trips to rock formations and climbable celebrity homes throughout Southern California. The company's veteran team oversees every outing and class, keeping novices safe and sharing tips on gear and safety. And even when they're not working with students, they're navigating rough terrain and setting up specialty TV rigging for shows such The Amazing Race, The Bachelor, and The Biggest Loser.
Odd things are happening on the 3-mile stretch of woods outside of town. People venture off for a day of outdoorsy fun and never return. Thankfully, Escape The Nightmare is assembling able-bodied search parties, whose members scour the woods while avoiding the traps and obstacles that befell their predecessors. As they run through the paths, they must dodge grim creatures while also surmounting both man-made and natural obstacles.
As the heats of runners cross the starting line beginning in the early evening, they are equipped with headlamps to help them weave through the course and solve the the spooky backstory. Clues to the mysteries––including why people are "disappearing" and why is that man carrying around a stuffed rabbit––unfold as runners get closer to the finish line. But only by keeping your flags securely attached to your belt can you say you solved the mystery without becoming one of the lost.
It took a while for Cedar Lake Camp to come into its identity, changing hands three times in 20 years before the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles bought it in 1955. Since then, the staff has worked hard to establish it as a sanctuary of reflection, renewal, and recreation. The manmade lake clearly plays a central role in the retreat’s activities, from canoeing to swimming and fishing. The camp has also extended its recreational purview to include thrills such as ziplining, rope courses, and team-building activities. It rents its lodges out year-round to guests and bears looking for a place to hibernate, and often hosts summer camps for kids and families.
See the trees from the canopy and experience nature a whole new way with Action Tree Rope Climbing. At a spot near Big Bear Lake, certified instructors help guests scale trees' massive trunks using harnesses, ropes, and a series of knots. This safe way of climbing allows guests aged 12 and older to live out their dreams of becoming climbing squirrels as they gaze back down on the forest floor from 45 feet in the air. During tours, guides explain a little about the area, including conservation information and the location of the nearest fairy circles.
Shawn Crawford has been climbing for more than 40 years, working with wilderness search and rescue at age 13 and later serving as a park ranger. Today, he’s the owner and head instructor at Rock City Climbing, where he puts his American Mountaineering and Guiding Association certification to use as he teaches climbers of all experience levels techniques of top-rope climbing, belaying, rappelling, and bouldering.
Inside a gym equipped with more than 10,000 feet of climbing walls, as well as top-rope and bouldering areas, students learn basic and advanced climbing techniques in a range of classes. As they climb, instructors introduce techniques such as hand and foot placement and what to do if gravity starts working in reverse. Visitors can leave the main floor to explore a tunnel maze behind the climbing walls, filled with trap doors, narrow passageways, and drops of up to 11 feet.
When not overseeing his gym, Shawn leads outdoor climbing excursions to challenging locales such as Joshua Tree, Riverside Quarry, and the Statue of Liberty. He also oversees a nearby ropes course, where staffers help groups and individuals navigate two ziplines, as well as more than 20 aerial challenges at heights of up to 60 feet.