Sunday, 21 March 2010

Adventures at the Sky Quest Rope Park

If you want to test your physical fitness, strength and coordination, visit Sky Quest Rope Park – the first indoor ropes course in Kyiv. You can conquer its challenging obstacles or relax, relieving stress from the office.

The course is located in the hall of IMAX-Utel 3D Cinema in Blockbuster entertainment center, not far from Petrivka metro station. It looks like a cross between a gym and a ship, with all its rope ladders and nets. The sky of an evening city painted on the walls creates a marvelous atmosphere. The park consists of numerous obstacles made from nets, ropes and steel ropes. They form five interconnected walkways of different complexity levels. You can start testing your fitness on three tracks, at the height of four meters, and feel the adrenaline on the two paths, eight meters above the floor. It sounds easy -- just until you put your leg on the thin rope for the first time and grasp the steel rope with your trembling fingers.

I had to put on the special safety belt and helmet. The assistants then instructed me on how to use the carabines. I faced the walkway made of swings, ropes and nets. The world was turning upside down as tried to make the next step across the sky. I learned not to be afraid of falling down, hoping that the belayers would hold me anyway. I was not so sure of my hands before and was surprised with their unexpected strength. Then I felt pleasure mixed with adrenaline. Sometimes the rope bridge happened to have rolling details or fake footsteps creating extra drama. Every step and every new obstacle became a new target. Finally I reached a net on the border and could rest, feeling subtle support under my feet.

My instructor told me to climb up the rope ladder to the highest walkway. It feels like you are climbing on air. I reached the rope bridge and crawled across it. It is easy if you can forget that you’re hanging eight meters above the floor and avoid looking at little figures of people below, watching you as if it was a circus show. I hardly got to the next trial – it was two parallel ropes, one of which you hold and one to walk along. I felt like a ropewalker trying to maintain equilibrium on the thin stretched steel rope. Time seemed to stop and I concentrated on my hands, grabbing knot after knot.

After these adventures, I got to a little platform, protruding from the wall. Just as I finally had something firm under my feet, the instructor ordered me to jump. I had to make a true Tarzan leap and grab a swinging rope a few meters ahead. It seemed insane, to stand on the edge and prepare to leap, but when you do, you are not falling but flying in a rope jungle. I saw one girl trying to overcome her fear for 15 minutes, gathering a crowd with photo cameras, watching her hysterical doubts. Then they had a bet with the instructor and finally she jumped and got a Hr 20 award for being bold.

In Sky Quest, there is also an artificial rock wall for mountain climbers. You scramble up the wall clutching stone by stone and abseil down. Some of these projecting stones are too small to make them a point of rest, so it’s not easy to reach the sky climbing the painted skyscrapers.
The last walkway is the most complicated. It is a row of narrow swings and rope loops large enough for only one leg. I was balancing on these unstable rope swings using all my arm strength to go ahead and not fall down. There were also hanging wooden stakes with small platforms for your feet. Moving from loops to wooden swings, I got awfully tired but could not relax until I reached the end of the path. It was a real test of willpower. Quest Event Network also offers corporate teambuilding activities at Sky Quest. Overcoming rope obstacles as a team may develop communication, co-operation, dexterity and confidence, and teaches people to be persistent and reliable. Fear is a key factor here, but it’s all very safe. “The ropes are changed once a month, and all equipment is under inspection,” expert instructor Vitaliy Zorin assured me.

There is also a special rope playground for kids, but children usually choose walkways for adults. They climb rope-ladders like little monkeys and are not afraid of heights or falling down. There are no clear age restrictions: it depends on the child’s level of development and the parents’ permission. The youngest visitor was three and a half years old, his parents were extremely enthusiastic rock climbers. Young couples enjoy it as well because walking on ropes seems to be very romantic.

Twenty minutes of climbing in the Rope Park costs Hr 50, but Sky Quest has a system of discounts. On Mondays instructors conduct rock-climbing master classes, and Alpinism classes are on Thursday. One-hour master-classes start at 5 p.m., 7p.m. and 9 p.m. and cost Hr 100. On Tuesdays all tickets are Hr 25. On Wednesdays there is a special discoutn for couples: ladies get in for free.

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