Divided between two locations in Manchester and Nashua, Vertical Dreams' 15,000 square feet of simulated mountainside are packed with obstacles and tough sections to challenge climbers of all skill levels. At the Manchester gym, gutted elevator shafts lined with hand grips extend four stories upward, creating 70-foot vertical surfaces. The Nashua location boasts 10,000 square feet of wall space, with textured surfaces that respond realistically to climber's hands and feet and fill their nostrils with simulated rock smells.
Vertical Dreams' staff of veteran climbers teaches students one-on-one or in groups. In beginner lesson packages, instructors show aspiring climbers the figurative and literal ropes involved in belaying, climbing, and knot tying, and the teachers in advanced top-roping and sport-climbing classes push their students' abilities to climb solo or in a lead position.
Schartner Farms has a history that stretches even longer than its annual corn maze. After immigrating to the United States in 1902, the Schartner family settled in Bolton and opened a farm. For the next century, multiple generations of the family milked cows and filled the soil with seeds to grow fruits, vegetables, and cheeseburgers. The farm became something of a local landmark, and in 2006, the town of Bolton and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts designated it an Agricultural Preservation Restriction Farm.
Today, the fourth generation of Schartners runs the farm. Aside from the signature corn maze, they invite visitors to pick apples, and relax on hayrides, which wind past the property's forests, fields, and ponds.
Certified by the American Mountain Guides Association, the staff of climbing instructors at Boston Rock Gym teach torsos how to ascend altitudes with indoor-, outdoor-, and youth-climbing activities. The savvy instructors lead the way around the facility’s more than 40 ropes, which set the stage for both group and private indoor lessons, as well as open climbing sessions in which self-guided climbers reach for neon-colored handgrips while being supported by auto-belay devices. Outdoors, students learn to navigate nature’s authentic slabs during lessons and clinics that start with the basics and graduate up to advanced ice-climb maneuvers. Additionally, the facility’s youth programs cater to smaller grips and aim to boost self-confidence while preparing children for the physical-fitness portion of the SAT.
Michael Donofrio, the founder and lead guide of Vertical World Adventures, maneuvers his limbs up vertical surfaces of all shapes and sizes. Since 1996, he has guided thousands of people on ice, rock, and mountaineering trips to destinations as close as Crow Hill in Leominster State Forest and as remote as the far-flung mountains of the American West. No matter the theme or location of the exhibition, Michael and his team of seasoned guides have successfully guided outdoor adventure trips for people of all ages and experience levels.
In addition to plotting trips and staying safe, guides also make sure that their charges have the skills to surmount even the craggiest cliffs through a full slate of climbing classes. Scaled for all experience levels, classes focus on overcoming challenges and improving communication skills. Popular courses include Basic Mountaineering, Learn to Ice Climb Locally, and Self-Rescue Skills, which imparts techniques for escaping the belay and using prusiks to ascend the rope.
Monadnock Glass Arts was shaped under the finely wrought fingertips of owner and flameworker Eric Duyette, who breathes more than a decade of experience into every blown sculpture, vase, and bulb. Classes introduce students to the art of flameworking borosilicate glass by creating marbles. pendants, beads, sea-life sculptures and various functioning & non-functioning lamp worked projects. Two torch workstations dominate the intimate studio environment where Duyette instructs with an emphasis on safety and proper ventilation and equipment use.
Towering 22 feet in the air, the main bouldering wall at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville stretches 140 feet across, leaving plenty of room for climbers to make their ascents. The wall is part of the facility's 28,000 square feet of climbable surfaces, which include a shorter bouldering area plus a 50-foot-high atrium complete with top-roping and lead-climbing routes.
These impressive features explain why Brooklyn Boulders Somerville has earned such glowing press, though that's not the whole story. The rest of the 40,000-square-foot center houses everything from climbing fitness rooms full of hang boards and pull-up bars to a yoga studio situated beneath a skylight. Other amenities include a weight room, a space dedicated to cardio equipment, and saunas for relaxing after a tough workout session.
The sauna isn't the only place to kick back at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville. The entire space is equipped with free WiFi?no surprise given the center's newly launched Active Collaborative Workspace, where groups gather to launch start-ups, finish work, or get cranking on school projects in a setting that's about as far from "cramped conference room" as it gets. Elsewhere, pop-up shops spotlight locally made clothes and wares, and a gallery showcases rotating artwork.