Tag Archives: ropes course

And then I climbed…

13 Aug

See, easy. Turner Bowling is at the top in about two minutes.

My High Adventure experience started on the course’s newest feature, a foot climbing wall. After a quick tutorial and demonstration from Turner Bowling, coordinator of the High Adventure program, I was ready to take a climb. It was my first experience climbing anything other than a tree. Bowling practically ran up the wall, looking a lot like Spider-Man, so I thought I should at least make it half way up before things got too difficult. Boy, was I over confident.

The climbing wall has two sets of hand and foot hold: an “easy” route and an “advanced” route. The holds on the advanced side are smaller and further apart. Climbing for the first time, I was not arrogant enough to think that I could manage the advanced side so I broke toward the easy path with my first couple of moves. Things were going great and I quickly reached the first level. The wall is marked in zones, one to seven, so you can track your progress. As soon as I passed the number “1” inscribed on the wall, I noticed that the holds started to get further apart; still I managed to get to number “2”.

Taking the easy route.

Up until that point, I had chosen my own path. Honestly, I didn’t really think much about it. I just kept moving to the next hold, happy to be moving up. Two things happened next that changed my progression on the wall. First, my shoe came untied. It didn’t affect my foot hold at all, but after my team brought it to my attention I glanced down to look at my PR partner in crime, Amy, and realized how high I was. Then, on my next move my foot slipped. Whoa, that was a scary feeling.

I stayed on the wall and was able to get back on the hold I slipped off of, but I was having trouble finding the next hold that would work. My team of spotters below called out suggestions and I tried to reposition myself to make something work. Ultimately, I made two more forward climbs and then could go no further. My summit was somewhere between “2” and “3”.

The end of the line for me.

Though it wasn’t a bad effort for my first time, I felt I could have done better. I know the next time I attack the wall, I am going to start planning a path sooner and try to look two to three steps ahead as I climb.


And then I jumped…

12 Aug

1 – 2 — 3 — Zip! And with that I walked off the plank. What came next was shear exhilaration as I soared over forty feet off the ground spanning the 500 foot valley of Democrat Hollow in about 15 seconds. It was quick, but it certainly qualified as the most fun I have had on the job in a long time. Had I not had important public relations duties to attend to, I probably would have stayed there all day or at least taken the plunge one more time.

The zipline is the final high element of LMU’s High Adventure Ropes Course, which has been a fixture in Democrat Hollow since 2009. The High Adventure Ropes Course combines fun and adventure with team building and leadership development. Designed and built for the University by Challenge Tours, the course consists of six low ropes elements and three high ropes elements.  

LMU’s High Adventure Ropes Course Coordinator Turner Bowling agreed to take a group the University Advancement staff out to the course to experience a few of the elements. The best part, we all got to wear some really cool harnesses that are extremely flattering to our figures (I hope you can feel the sarcasm in that statement). Seriously, the best part was having fun with my co-workers and trying something new. To fully capture, and share, this experience I even rigged my own helmet cam by duct tapping a Flip Cam to the helmet. The result is a pretty shaky video, but you can get a sense of what the zipline experience is from the video.

The zipline is pretty self explanatory. Turner took our group two at a time to the plank, which has been built about forty feet up on one side of the valley. A wire is suspended across the valley attached to poles on each side. For lack of a technical explanation, the “zipliner” zips across the wire, suspended by a rope connected to your harness on one end and a pulley on the other. There is not a lot of team building to this exercise, but some technique is required to successfully “land.” Since Turner was on his own on this outing, he asked for one of our group to volunteer to “catch” for him.


LMU High Adventure Coordinator Turner Bowling demonstrating an easy landing.

I wanted to capture some video and photos of everyone, so I volunteered to catch. A successful landing involved landing on your feet and running up the hill building on the momentum off the zipline. It sounded easy enough in theory. Turner demonstrated how easy it should be.

LMU Director of Alumni Services demonstrates a not-so-easy landing.

Once my first team member came crashing into the earth, about 20 feet lower on the hill than I was set to catch him, I realized that it might be trickier than it looked. After three other failed catchings I was relieved of my catching duties and headed to the plank armed with my observations on the landings. My teammate ahead of me, who had also had the benefit of observing other landings, did manage to land on his feet.

When it was my turn, Turner reminded me that I would start to twist after take-off. He said it was important that I throw my weight the way the rope is turning, so that I am square with the ground on the landing. Amazingly, I executed a near perfect landing. After watching person after person slide into the other side of the valley, I was just happy not to be covered in mud.

My group decided, because of time constraints, to skip the ultra scary Pamper Pole. Another high element of the course, the Pamper Pole involves climbing to the top of a pole (picture a telephone pole), standing straight up and jumping off to hit a ball that is suspended about five feet off the pole. It’s the ultimate trust fall, as you have to trust your team, which is managing the belay, to ease your decent.

 I’m not sure if I’m crazy or just still high from the adrenaline from the zipline, but I definitely want to try the Pamper Pole on my next visit to the High Adventure Ropes Course. That’s right, I said next. I’m totally hooked. I wonder why it took me two years to get out there in the first place.



A graceful take off.



My smooth landing. Notice the helmet is over my eyes.