The guides at Vertically Inclined maintain an intimate knowledge of the steep slopes, craggy rocks, burbling steams, and scenic wooded overlooks at each of their chosen hiking locations. They tailor their day hikes, overnight treks, and fall-foliage winery expeditions to fit the ability levels of their fellow hikers. Depending on their chosen route, treks may wind along trails through the Bear Mountain region and the Hudson Highlands, or to rugged landscapes including Fort Montgomery. During their many journeys, they keep their cameras handy to snap photos and document their hikers' victories over the terrain and in arm-wrestling matches with bald eagles. Though adventures technically begin at the trailhead, guides know that getting there is half the battle and provide round-trip transportation from the Bronx.
Why build a business based purely on surprising people? “Because life moves fast and we don’t play nearly as much as we should,” say Surprise Industries founders and sisters Kat Dudina and Tania Luna on their website. By setting up surprises for big groups and individual clients alike, the duo, along with their imaginative staff, encourages the giddiness of play that often gets lost in the shuffle of adult responsibilities. With only a location and a time to arrive, participants are swept into an unpredictable adventure that may involve anything from attending an ice-sculpting workshop to being elected chairman of the Federal Reserve.
A veritable mountain greets climbers inside The Rock Club, challenging them to scale its 40' high face without speaking a single word. After pulling their eyes away from the main wall, guests discover the gym's other rocky offerings, including 80 climbing stations, more than 200 individual routes, and muscle-testing bouldering cliffs. Experienced staff members with a passion for climbing roam the gym, eager to help veteran climbers reach new heights, introduce new climbers to the sport during beginners' classes, or describe the scent found at the top of the Himalayan Mountains. The Rock Club also offers lead climbing, slacklining, and movement classes as well as a kids program with a competitive climbing team, junior programs, and camps.
Helmed by a team of passionate climbing coaches, both of The Gravity Vault's locations surround climbers with more than 13,000 square feet of climbing space. Walls tower past 35 feet, mimicking such natural rock formations as overhangs, keyhole arches, and slabs, and bouldering areas challenge climbers with a latticework of problems that—unlike most of life's—can't simply be solved with dynamite and a pair of roller skates. Visitors can choose from up to 60 top-rope stations, trusting either the trained staff or a certified fellow climber to man the ropes while they scramble to the summit. When not dangling from a hold or saving lost kittens from a rappel ledge, members can bulk up in the cardiovascular-training area.
Climbers of all ages and skill levels scamper across roughly 22,000 square feet of climbable space inside Brooklyn Boulders's rock-climbing gym. A dedicated route-setting staff organizes color-coded problems on craggy, angled top-rope walls as well as bouldering walls that reach up to 15 feet. To help visitors master these walls, seasoned instructors train them in three basic types of climbing: bouldering, top-rope climbing, or lead climbing. They teach these skills through classes such as the peak-performance program, which combines seven classes in lead climbing, bouldering, and cross-training to accelerate students' learning. To ease stressed muscles and promote calm reflection, staffers also lead all-ages yoga lessons and monthly yoga workshops.
Brooklyn Boulders also injects creativity into its special events, which encourage visitors to climb in costume around Halloween and take part in competitions during which they pretend the floor has turned to lava. Staffers also invite local graffiti artists to display their murals inside, work to preserve regional climbing areas by partnering with Access Fund, and coordinate programs through its BKB Foundation—a nonprofit that provides greater access to rock climbing for kids and adults.