In order to reach the finish line of the Raid Series obstacle course, participants must hoist a sandbag, leap over marine hurdles, and scale a cargo net. The course is designed to emulate a run through the city streets, right up to the finish line, which is actually a climbing wall. It's one branch of The Raid Series, a trifecta of terrain-inspired 5Ks.
Most people don't dabble in extreme sports, and for good reason. They're extreme—one false move in, say, rock climbing, and you could fall off a cliff or kiss a boulder you only like as a friend. Summit Adventures makes extreme sports more approachable, though, with simulators that keep all the fun, but lessen the risks. Here, rock-climbing involves full safety harnesses and a 30-foot indoor wall, archery means shooting targets with foam-tipped arrows, and stunt driving becomes safe and easy, thanks to well-designed bumper cars. Even walking on water has a place here: kids, enclosed in giant transparent hamster balls, can run on the surface of an indoor pool.
Salt Pump's Founder's and staff have put up first ascents around the world, but it was the boulders and mountains of New England—Maine in particular—that inspired the design of Salt Pump Climbing. Perched on the edge of a remote, mirror-like pond, the facility is awash in natural light streaming through its generous floor-to-ceiling windows. The result is a distinctly coastal climbing gym surrounded by the state's breathtaking natural beauty, but protected from its inclement weather and lobsterstorms.
With all of that care and attention to detail, it's not surprising that Salt Pump offers something for climbers of all ages and experience levels. First-timers can open on an introductory class that covers basic climbing knots, belay technique, and the route-reading skills it takes to conquer any vertical path. Those with more experience can sign up for the three-part lead climbing class that tackles the facility's highest, 45-foot walls, or get back to strength-building basics in the gym's many yoga programs. It's all a part of building a community of climbers—a community that comes together every week at Miyamoto's dojo night, a sort of freestyle climbing-fitness session that's free for members.
Whale watching was a relatively new concept when John Fish's grandfather started giving tours. "We kind of originated it," Mr. Fish says. "Thirty years ago we were the only ones doing whale watching." As the company became more successful over the years, additional captains were brought on to cover the demand. Today, these crews continue to ferry groups into the habitats of several whale species, including humpback whales and sperm whales. Though the whales seen along Cap'n Fish's Whale Watch's journeys still breach and refuse to sign autographs, other things have changed over the years. Below deck, the current fleet's engines work to reduce emissions and provide a fume-free experience. Above deck, 360-degree viewing decks and modern technology help bring whales into sight. Onboard computers display large maps of where the aquatic mammals are known to swim, and GPS systems reroute boats around mermen constructing new reefs. In addition to illuminating the behavior of whales for passengers, the crew's wildlife experts point passengers toward other animals they spot along the way, such as white-sided dolphins and harbor seals. Though some variables are beyond their control, the crew members almost always spot whales and boasted a 98% success rate in 2009.
Billed as Maine's highest and largest ropes course, the labyrinth of ropes, bridges, and catwalks challenges even the most confident aerialists. The ropes course is just one of more than 60 airborne activities. For something equally exciting, try the zipline tour. Six zip-wires long, the trek takes you through the treetops of breathtaking forests.
Within both MetroRock locations, visitors ascend via bouldering walls and rope-climbing walls or take to aerobic exercise machines and fitness equipment to build strength. With this setup available to climbers of all skill levels, the founders of the climbing arenas achieved their goal of creating a community where scalers can congregate, share their passions, and hone their climbing skills.
During indoor and outdoor classes, instructors
create lessons that help each climber reach their goals. Indoor courses help instill students with basic climbing skills, rescue techniques, or the brute strength needed for bouldering or to intimidate mountains out of their lunch money. Outdoors, American Mountain Guide Association and Single Pitch–certified instructors teach alpinists skills that include how to secure top-rope anchors and how to climb ice or scale for sport. The centers' founders and their teams also organize climbing-centric programming that includes youth climbing teams and team-building events that challenge groups while forming bonds.