One step at a time: It doesn’t get more basic or succinct than that when embarking on a ropes course.
Even a person who’s never had issues with balance, after years of such physical regimens as figure skating, horseback riding and bicycling more than 2,000 miles a year, might start at ground zero with walking a wire. Not that Nik Wallenda will ever look over his shoulder at me, across Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, or anywhere.
Besides the many choices for parasailing along our Atlantic shore and three pads to fly away on helicopter tours, the Grand Strand boasts another option for folks who want to take high steps above the ground.
Open for about a month, Radical Ropes Adventure Park, spanning about 5 acres of woodlands at 19th Avenue South and Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, teemed with high-level walkers of all ages at the start of this past Sunday afternoon.
72 activities at Radical Ropes
8 ziplines at Radical Ropes
The first level alone, 20 feet from the ground, entails 17 crossings, and the next two levels escalate in difficulty and the same scale of height each, to a maximum of roughly 70 feet in the air.
Co-owner Jonathan Berry said two more attractions are slated to open in the next few weeks: a 65-foot-tall climbing wall, and “Leap of Faith” freefall big step that lands about 70 feet down. The interior of the park, much of it under shade, adds up to 72 activities, with eight ziplines on the perimeter.
With more than 20 years in the industry, and fun he finds in such pastimes as rappelling, rock climbing and white-water rafting, Berry said tackling this ropes course not only works out a person’s body, but his or her mind, with adrenaline. It also can add another layer of foundation to one’s self-esteem, in starting out and conquering a quest, in this case, on tightropes, rope ladders, and in one instance, a skateboard trip atop a line.
Preparations, safety and awareness of surroundings at all times at Radical Ropes are rock-solid strong from the start, with stepping into a full-body harness kit, tightening all the belts, and donning a helmet and heavy-duty work gloves. At an introductory “ground school,” patrons learn how to latch their hook, and for zipline intervals, how to hook up a device with pulleys.
With each level of ropes walking, the hook stays attached to a lead wire continuously through the whole course, and remembering a Pac-Man mouth reference leads to the key for shifting the thin slit in the hook to progress to each activity aloft.
My circuit through the first level Sunday surpassed about 75 minutes, but no rush was needed, or viable, not with a family of four in front and a father and two youth in back. When waiting in between stations, take time to breathe in the thrill of seeing swallowtail butterflies aflutter below, and don’t miss spotting the rings of holes drilled by woodpeckers’ into the proximate trees’ trunks.
Whatever works, footwise
With every crossing requiring a different array of steps and the means by which to balance every stride, observing how a person ahead meets the challenge might provide valuable homework for your own step off the next platform.
Some people, especially children, would walk single, straight lines, as they put one foot in front of the other.
Some individuals might step, one foot forward, then bring the other foot up, and repeat the sequence, or walk with feet sideways and facing one direction, and yet others might simply slide both feet sideways, with their soles never leaving the line. Different strokes for different folks: Whatever works best to stay in one’s own comfort zone.
Staying hydrated before and during the course also reigns among the rules. The wooden tower to access all three levels, which from atop affords a serene ocean view, has large coolers for water consumption. About eight cups of cold water and a bottle of Dr Pepper provided my own recharge.
Berry said with this first autumn in business approaching, and as hours might change for the offseason, he and the staff look forward especially to accommodating more group outings, such as for camps and corporate gatherings.
30 the number of crew on hand at Radical Ropes
If a boy in back of you goads his father, “Are you going to run across this like I did?” just chalk up that confidence to youthful enthusiasm and innocent fearlessness that we never ought to lose, but have no choice in seeing it ebb with age.
Radical Ropes guides, from a total crew of 30, watch the walkers from various points. One aide, standing on a platform about halfway through my circuit, handed out advice that made all the difference for the remainder of my adventure: In places where guide ropes straddle a crossing on both sides, rest, don’t clench, your hands on them. If any loss of balance results from a person’s feet, human body instinct will trigger a grip by the hands anyway. This tip surely allowed a better channeling of energy, and it really made the remainder of my journey a tad speedier and in essence, more upright.
As that attendant remarked, it’s natural to be scared of heights, and that this kind of outing only heightens respect for them.
Later, Berry, who after college, spent time in the therapy and communications field, where he saw how “a small ropes course” played a valuable role for clientele, confirmed that sentiment.
“It’s the body’s natural way of saying you don’t fly,” he said.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.
If you go – Some aerial thrills
Radical Ropes Adventure Park
WHERE: 301 19th Ave. S. Myrtle Beach, at Kings Highway, at site of former Safari Golf miniature golf course
OPEN: Noon-10 p.m. daily into early September, then check for updates as autumn approaches
▪ Aerial Adventure Park – $49 adults, $42 ages 11-17, and $32 ages 7-10
▪ Extreme Zips – $49 adults, $42 ages 10-17.
▪ Climbing wall and “Leap of Faith” freefall, opening soon – $19 for three climbs or leaps, or any combination of both.
▪ Reservations strongly encouraged.
▪ Anyone 13 or younger needs adult accompaniment, with minimum ages 7 and 10 for adventure park and ziplines, respectively.
▪ Closed-toed and closed-heeled shoes required.
▪ Weight and height requirements apply, such as 250-pound limit and height range of 3.5 feet to 6 feet 2 inches for adventure park and zip lines.
▪ On zip lines, minimum reach of 66 inches, standing with both feet flat on a flat surface, needed.
INFORMATION: 843-723-4225 (RADICAL) or www.radicalropes.com
Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure Course
WHERE: Spanning 6 acres at North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex, at S.C. 90 and Robert Edge Parkway, behind amphitheater
OPEN: Times vary by day, but open daily through August, then open Thursdays-Mondays (closed Tuesdays-Wednesdays) into autumn
HOW MUCH: $57 ages 16 and older, $37 ages 10-15.
▪ For ages 10 and older, with minimum height of 55 inches and maximum weight 285 pounds
▪ Two people ages 10-15 need one participating adult (18 or older) on hand.
INFORMATION: 800-971-8271, 410-787-2417 or goape.com/zip-line/north-myrtle-beach