Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ropes Challenge Course Debuts at Sportsworks

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ropes Challenge Course Debuts at Sportsworks

Article excerpt

Look out for some fun surprises within the 11 challenges.

That's what a staff member at the Carnegie Science Center told me as I entered the new Ropes Challenge at Highmark SportsWorks earlier this week.

Testing my fear of heights, I embarked on a 15-minute gravity-defying mission that included sailing over the heads of adults and children on a zip line, inching my way across a swaying tight rope, and, my favorite, walking the plank and being greeted by a surprise jolt at the end that felt as if I was about to fall into the abyss.

The Ropes Challenge course has entertained more than 1,500 visitors - adults and children - since it opened Monday following a week of construction.

"Opening day was wild," said Matt Needles, director of education.

"The whole goal of SportsWorks is to provide full-body immersion experiences, so we were looking for the next big thing for that," he said. "The Rope Challenge allows you to explore physics and how the body balances itself."

The idea for the course came from Dennis Bateman, senior director of exhibits and experience, who was inspired by a ropes course he saw at a conference. Four years later, the Ropes Challenge course joins one at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, Fla., as the only two museum rope courses on the East Coast.

"Participants build confidence as they overcome these obstacles that challenge them," Mr. Needles said.

The 20-foot-tall course contains 11 obstacles that vary in level of difficulty. "The goal was to have a wonderful variety of things with varying difficulties that would create challenges for people with different fears and skill sets," he said.

The ropes course was also constructed in a way that would allow people to get around others who are taking a longer time by having four-way intersections and different obstacle bridges connecting to the same place. …

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