Photo courtesy of Mr. Ross Franklin – Hunter Franklin ’19, middle, runs the Flagstaff Extreme ropes course with an instructor, left, and Matthew Brown ’20, right, close by Sunday, July 5, 2015, in Flagstaff, Ariz.
By Hunter Franklin ’19
Students have plenty of school-related activities to keep them busy, but there are also many exciting activities to do in our free time in Arizona.
For example, up north in Flagstaff you can test your skills on the zipline ropes courses at Flagstaff Extreme.
The Flagstaff Extreme Ropes Course is perfect for any adrenaline junky.
Andrew Brown ’18, Matthew Brown future class of 2020, and I went up one weekend to try it out.
The day starts with a 30-minute training session on the GREEN course, only four feet off the ground. The session includes a run through of safety procedures, and gets you familiar with your safety harness cables and carabiners.
The SILVER course, at 15 feet off the ground, is the next test. The cable ladders and tent elements will really start to test you.
There are three other courses beyond that—BLUE, RED and BLACK—each one more challenging than the next as you climb even farther into the Ponderosa Pine tree canopy up to 60 feet off the ground.
Each course becomes longer in distance with more difficult hazards along the way. Balance comes into play when crossing wobbly bridges and swinging rope surprises.
The downside to this adventure? If you decide to back out and a Flagstaff Extreme guide has to bring you down, your adventure is over for the day.
In other words, the only way to keep going is to finish one course at a time, get your passport stamped at the end and decide whether to continue on to the next course.
I have a fear of heights so I was quite challenged by this ropes course. But I managed to overcome my fears and persevere.
I did this by toughing it out to avoid embarrassment in front of my friends, the other participants and those show-off squirrels scurrying across the branches above me.
Believe me the struggle was real.
Earlier on in the course I witnessed a fellow participant having to be brought down. After seeing that, it gave me pride that I hadn’t given up yet, despite my fear of falling out of the trees.
I needed to remind myself that I was, and was always going to be, attached to the safety cable. To the rational brain, there was no way I could plummet to my death.
But when you’re standing 40 feet above the ground on a shaking platform knees knocking together, heart pounding and with sweaty palms, all rationality had left my head.
For full disclosure my partners in crime we’re daredevils. Every obstacle that was presented to them, they ran across, jostling each other along the way, trying to knock each other off, all with the confidence of knowing that if they fell the cable would stop them.
Despite the difference in our approach, I felt lucky to have them along for the ride.
As friends they supported me by encouraging me and screaming out warnings of the pitfalls and recommending short cuts of the route ahead.
Some of the obstacles that I experienced were walking on a tightrope, traversing wooden platforms, scrambling up rope walls and ziplining.
During the trip, there were severe thunderstorms in the area and they evacuated all participants from the course until the storm passed. The storm delay was three hours. So make sure to plan ahead so the weather doesn’t affect your experience.
Flagstaff Extreme Adventures strongly encourages booking your day/time in advance. You will avoid waiting and will be assured a space. My parents found discounted pricing with a Groupon.
- Full Course: $50 per guest + taxes and fees
- Kid’s Course: $27 + taxes and fees – Ages 7-11
- For an extra fee you can hire a staff guide to lead you through the course.
- Must be accompanied by adult 18+ (adult observes child from the ground)
- Flagstaff Extreme Adventures is located about 2.5 hours from Phoenix just before you get to Flagstaff, Arizona, in the historic Fort Tuthill County Park. Take exit 337 of of I-17. The park is nestled in cool Ponderosa pines three miles south of Flagstaff.
- What to bring? Just yourself, some water for hydration and some gloves for gripping ropes and carabiners.