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.
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.
The event planners at Tikes, Hikes and Bikes send families and kids of all abilities on trips across outdoor trails that foster a love for both nature and exercise. Throughout the year, the organization's team plans excursions ranging from bike rides to hikes and stroller and wheelchair walks. As each journey unfolds, groups may pause to picnic, swap acorn recipes with a squirrel, or forge nature crafts such as bird feeders.To accommodate as many family members as possible, Tikes, Hikes and Bikes' crew posts which trails are paved and wheelchair accessible. They also plan events to benefit child-related charities and encourage kids to pick up trash on each trip, helping protect wildlife from grazing garbage trucks.
Fashioned by the minds behind the Eureka Butcher and enhanced by Missouri's distinct geological makeup, Terror Cave plunges guests into one of the world's largest subterranean spook-fests. Groups navigate through 55,000 square feet that make up a natural underground cave, sliding feet along uneven terrain and dodging the fissure's undead denizens. Like most early airplane models, the ecological attraction has no doors or windows, thereby preventing foolhardy escape attempts. Terror Cave recommends that small children, expectant mothers, and overly jumpy wallabies avoid its cavernous haunts, which go on grotto-patrol Friday and Saturday evenings from 7 p.m. to midnight.
In 1898—the same year Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium and composer George Gershwin was born—the Wyman Center opened its doors. Founded in St. Louis by a group of citizens intent upon granting the city’s children a respite from the often sweltering tenements, the organization’s first programs were designed to furnish participants with fresh air, healthy food, and fun-filled outdoor activities. Though the world has changed radically since the Wyman Center’s inception, it continues to uphold and expand upon its founders' original mission of providing teens from disadvantaged circumstances with opportunities, support, and educational programs.
Today, powered by a dedicated staff of community leaders and volunteers, the Wyman Center’s numerous initiatives revolve around leadership and outreach programs. Amidst 250 acres of sylvan land, the Eureka campus serves as a base for outdoor education programs available to a variety of organizations from educational camps to team building retreats. Under the watchful eyes of supportive staffers and any fruit bats flying overhead, outdoor adventurers can tackle challenges afforded by ziplines, climbing walls, and orienteering activities. Along with skill-building programs, a variety of getaway packages invite groups to revel in the alfresco amenities of the Eureka campus while celebrating birthdays, weddings, or family reunions.
Flying at 30 miles per hour over forest canopies may seem like an unconventional way to tour the wilderness, but the staff at Eco Zipline Tours wouldn't have it any other way. Bright-green leaves paint a picturesque backdrop for more than a quarter of a mile of cables that zigzag through the trees in New Florence to create 6 individual ziplines that cover 1,800 feet. Staff members lead groups of up to 10 through three different tours that range from the Easy Rider, which covers four lines, to the High Flyer, which rockets patrons down all 10 lines over a mile of ziplines at heights up to 225 feet.
Eco Zipline Tours’ founder, Mike Seper, not only brings a passion for his hobby and Missouri wildlife, but he also brings expertise drawn from as far away as Hawaii. Eco Zipline tours upholds rigorous safety standards, including daily cable inspections and braking tutorials, and provides each patron with the required gear. Children aged 5 and older are welcome to zip, provided all minors are accompanied by a parent on tour.