On Wednesday night, we went to the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown again to climb the indoor climbing wall. We try to get there one night a week to hone our climbing skills.
There are several challenging routes designated by different colored tapes. After climbing until our fingers and arms are sore, we retreat to the racquetball courts to finish our nightly workout.
The climbing wall is on the end of the swimming-pool area, but high above the pool is another adventure area _ the High Ropes Challenge Course.
When we arrived, a group of kids were being instructed on the side of the pool. They were wearing climbing harnesses and were tethered to a cable overhead with two webbed straps and locking carabineers. At that point, they were learning to hook and unhook their safety straps before ascending to the high ropes.
The high ropes course is 30 feet above the two pools. Participants in the course will climb up through a rope-net tunnel and hook their safety lines to a steel cable that runs along the peak of the building.
There are several elements to the rope course. The first is crossing a rope net. When you get to the end of the net, there's a cage. An instructor then commands you to unhook one safety line and move it to a new section of the overhead cable. Then you release the second carabineer and move the second line to the new section. That way, you're always hooked into the safety cable.
The next challenge is a V-rope set up. You walk through a V-formation created by several ropes knotted to the bottom of a single one. After crossing that section, you stand in another cage and again switch your safety lines to the next section.
Other challenges include crossing a single rope for your feet with the help of another overhead for your hands and a section called the window, a wooden frame with an opening in the middle that you walk around.
At the end of the course, you're lowered into a diving pool or onto a dry section of the tile floor.
This course offers many vertical and horizontal challenges that test participants mentally and physically. It teaches many things such as taking instruction, how to work with others and how to work under pressure. It challenges any perceived limits you might have.
It's like rock climbing for me. I was afraid of heights before taking up climbing, but I was able to work through it. Today, I'm scaling walls and cliffs without a problem.
When the weather is good, there's an outdoor high-rope challenge course with 19 challenge areas and two levels _ 25 and 38 feet _ with a zip line.
The Clark Gym offers community rope-course instruction in both areas, which are available to gym members and the community. I'm looking forward to doing it and plan on joining one of the classes in the spring. The schedule is available on the Internet.
You never know. You might end up having to cross a rope that frays with each step over some bottomless gorge to escape spear-throwing natives in a bug-infested, tropical jungle some day.
Oneonta's Main Street Baptist Church will host a presentation by Charles Alsheimer at 7 p.m. March 23. "Whitetail: A Journey Through the Seasons" and "Hunting the Whitetail Rut" will be featured during the event, which is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6 p.m., with free coffee and vendor displays.
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.