by Stephen Johnson
I have always been scared of heights. Climbing Mount Everest or going bungee-jumping have never been the top of my bucket list. I am glad this phobia was not passed on to my son David. If anything, he embraces adventure. Especially if he’s embracing it from high places.
When I found out about the Altitude Gym Clip ‘N Climb experience, I knew it was a perfect compromise for both David and me. Housed in a converted church in Gatineau (Hull Sector), Altitude Gym offers rock-climbing and clip ‘n climb. Basically, clip ‘n climb is very similar to rock-climbing except the participant is clipped into a belay system making it easier to control and allowing for safer climbing.
We started the experience with safety instruction about how to put on the harness and clip securely. A staff person always has to check the clip before a person can climb. After our safety seminar, David was ready to head toward the sky. There must have been over thirty different climbing walls with various challenges for him to try.
At first, David was tentative in getting used to the harness and the belay. My wife Sandy and I also had to get used to seeing our son twenty feet in the air! The first time he jumped from the climbing wall, we all felt secure. The belay grabbed hold quickly and he gently came down.
With renewed confidence, David started trying different types of walls and structures. One of his favorites was a series of green cylindrical steel cones that progressively got higher. Upon reaching the top, David confidently leaped off letting the belay catch. Another favorite was a climbing wall where you could time yourself. It took David only one minute to reach the top. I’m sure I would still be struggling right now!
Interspersed between all the climbing, David tried two other attractions called the Leap of Faith and Vertical Drop Slide. For the drop slide, David had to put on a loose fitting body suit. He held onto a pulley that pulled him up what looked like a large skateboard halfpipe. Upon reaching his desired height, David gave the signal and came sliding down.
The last attraction was aptly named the Leap of Faith. David climbed up what looked like a metal telephone pole. There was a platform to step out on where he made a jump to grab hold of a cylindrical bag. He successfully completed the challenge and was thrilled with the experience.
I was impressed that all different ages could participate with Clip ‘N Climb. The day we visited there was a birthday party where most of the kids looked like they were six to eight. I also liked that it presented a physical challenge for David but was extremely safe. Staff made sure everyone was properly clipped in and having fun. Even though I did not participate this time, who knows? Perhaps climbing Mount Everest or bungee-jumping will be in the future plans for our family.
It is important to make a reservation for doing Clip ‘N Climb. There is an extra fee for the Leap of Faith and Vertical Drop Slide. There are plans to open an Ottawa location in 2017 so stay tuned. For more information, visit, www.altitudegym.ca