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April 23, 2014

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City park debuts rock wall, zip line and tight ropes

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Richard Brian

Eight graders Jimmy Figueroa, 13, left, and Devin Putnan, 14, travel down the 220-foot zip line as adventure director Ben Symons looks on at the Las Vegas Challenge Course on the grounds of the Las Vegas Sports Park.

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Eight grader Devin Putnan, 14, climbs up the 32-foot rock wall at the Las Vegas Challenge Course on the grounds of the Las Vegas Sports Park in Summerlin.

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Las Vegas Challenge Course adventure director Ben Symons assists sixth grader Rachel Dillard, 11, after she climbed up the 32-foot rock wall at the challenge course on the grounds of the Las Vegas Sports Park.

For those weary of run-of-the-mill activities like bowling or miniature golfing, the Las Vegas Sports Park in Summerlin recently debuted a new attraction unlike any other in the city.

The park opened a challenge course in late October. The course includes a rock wall, 220-foot zip line, trapeze and tight ropes among other apparatus.

"In a city like Vegas, it's something more for the community, especially in Summerlin," challenge course co-owner Zvi Zipor said. "My girlfriend has kids so I know there is so much stuff we've already done with them. We are constantly looking for new activities."

The challenge course features six low elements and six high elements.

The low elements are all on the ground and are meant to be done in groups. Zipor said the park specializes in team building outings for companies and sports teams and the low elements cater to such outings.

For example, one low element is the telephone pole shuffle, in which a group of people randomly stand on a telephone pole laid on the ground and are asked to arrange themselves in order of height without touching the ground.

Another ground activity is the nitro cross, in which a group of people stand in a large circle and individually swing by rope into a much a smaller circle without touching the outside the ground.

"The low elements focus on communication and leadership," said Brittany Wadas, a facilitator of activities at the course. "A lot of people think the challenges are hard. When they get out here they realize the task at hand, but it's pretty fun to figure out."

The six high elements at the course are more individual based and meant to build self confidence.

The most visually impressive is the zip line. Participants can reach the launch point of the zip line either by scaling the 32-foot climbing wall or climbing a ladder. The zip line travels at speeds up to 35 mph.

"It's neat to see someone that may be down on themselves, after they climb a 30-foot wall, all of a sudden they feel empowered," said Ben Symons, adventure director at the course. "Almost everyone who has gone down the zip line has wanted to go back down again. One 5-year-old sat up there almost 30 minutes hooked in, and when he finally went down he begged and begged to do it again."

Perhaps the most intimidating feature of the challenge course is the trapeze. Participants climb up to a platform stationed 35 feet in the air and must leap forward to catch a trapeze dangling eight feet in front of the platform. The jump takes guts, but if someone misses the trapeze, and many have, participants only drop about a foot because everyone is strapped into a harness.

There is also a "vertical playground" — essentially a jungle gym perched 20 to 30 feet above the ground — that includes a cargo net, giant tires and ladders.

"You don't have to be in the best physical shape to enjoy the course," Symons said. "And it reaches across all ages."

Individuals can use all elements at the challenge course for an hour for a flat rate of $45, or a single ride on the zip line costs $10. Group rates are $30 for 90 minutes for a minimum of 10 people.

Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or [email protected].

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