American folklore tells of John Henry, who raced a steam-powered drill straight through a mountain, but few have heard of Jonathan Hank, who climbed up the same mountain on a giant mechanical ibex. Relive a forgotten legend with today's Groupon: for $42, you get a half-day Intro to Rock Climbing clinic (an $85 value) from First Ascent Climbing Services. Sessions are held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Click here for a complete schedule of the half-day rock climbing clinics.
In business since 1993 and accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association, First Ascent Climbing Services bolsters beginning climbers on the stony shoulders of its experienced instructors. Clinics begin on the north rim cliffs of Smith Rock State Park, whose natural footholds and smiling vice-presidential faces provide plenty of challenging, multitiered terrain. After equipping their charges with the provided climbing shoes, helmets, and harnesses, guides demonstrate tying into climbing ropes and review belaying—the practice of securing the rope for the climber—and its accompanying commands, such as "on belay," "belay on," and "look out for that avalanche." The instructors offer their advice and encouragement throughout the day's multiple climbs, during which students will also belay their comrades, ensuring a well-rounded introduction to climbing.
Sessions are limited to 12 participants, and climbers must be over 11 years old. Early registration is recommended, although First Ascent will add more clinic dates and construct papier-mâché mountains as needed.
First Ascent Climbing Services
Sure, First Ascent teaches climbers of all skill levels how to scale cliffs and hoist themselves over boulders. But the "ascent" part of their name also refers to less tangible obstacles: conquering insecurities, developing confidence, and building upon self-esteem. Students work toward all of these goals—both the physical and the mental—during climbing clinics at Smith Rock State Park, a sprawl of high-desert terrain filled with sheer cliffs made of volcanic minerals such as tuff and basalt. Every course is helmed by an instructor who is certified by the AMGA and speaks fluent mountain goat.