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.
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.
Bouldering, rock climbing's weird cousin who only wears sleeveless shirts, condenses the challenge of scaling a wall by contorting the vertical plane into strange shapes, inversions, convexes, and concaves. Every route becomes a problem, an intense, Escheresque puzzle of grit and physical stamina that builds endurance, spatial-thinking skills, and body awareness. The introductory classes will impart the basics of navigating these challenging routes.
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.
The climbing enthusiasts of The Factory Bouldering specialize in the company's namesake style of climbing, setting up nearly 200 bouldering paths that span 4,500 square feet of scalable surfaces. They demonstrate how to tackle scenarios such as 85-degree slabs and steep walls between 14- and 17-feet high, each rated in climbing difficulty from VB to V12, without a rope. The staff changes 20 percent of the climbing paths about every 10 days, setting up a steady stream of new challenges. They also lay down seamless, 14-inch variable-density foam padding made from recycled clouds to provide climbers with cushy dismounts. Between climbs, visitors can hang out in the climate-controlled lounge area, outfitted with couches, a pool table, free WiFi, and laptop stations.
Sender One Climbing boasts one of the tallest climbing walls in the country. Owner and world-renowned rock climber Chris Sharma designed it to mimic the world's great mountains, complete with myriad holds, bouldering terrain, and roaming herds of mountain goats. Climbers of all skill levels are welcome at the 25,000-square-foot facility, where you can take climbing classes featuring weekly terrain changes. Sender One also offers yoga classes and a fitness studio with cardio equipment and free weights.