by: BY CHRIS SULLIVAN, KIRO Radio Reporter
EVERETT. Wash. – Snohomish County has its eyes on becoming the climbing capitol of Washington. It is about to open up one of the more unique climbing courses in the region.
I was driving on Beverly Park Drive on the south end of Paine Field when I noticed this giant structure, just off the road. It had massive wood pillars, ropes, obstacles and zip lines. I, like dozens after me on that day, pulled into Paine Field Community Park to take a look. That’s where I found Snohomish County Parks and Rec director Tom Teigen checking out his county’s newest attraction — a climbing challenge course for all ages and skill levels.
“It’s a great park’s amenity and a wonderful tourism draw,” he said. “It’s great for small business. It’s economic development. It kind of ticks all the boxes for us in the county.”
High Trek Ventures, of Redmond, will run the day-to-day operations of the park space. The two sides agreed on a 12-year lease that is worth about $500,000 to the county.
“Everybody’s probably done a high-ropes course or that kind of thing, and there’s plenty of those around the area,” Teigen said, “but there’s really nothing at all like this.”
High Tech Ventures owner Brad Halbach was busy training his staff when I dropped by, making sure they knew how all the harnesses worked and how to help visitors through the obstacles.
“Just like skiing, we have a green, blue and black difficulties on the course,” he said. “It’s really starting at ages 4 on up to 104 is what we say. It’s for all ages.”
Kids under the age of 11 can work on the ground course, gaining confidence as they go. Older kids and adults can ascend to 55-feet off the ground, and you don’t need any previous climbing experience to do it.
“No pre-recs required,” Halbach said. “You can just walk in, and in about 15-20 minutes you’ll be up in the air.”
What makes this climbing course so unique is that it is self-guided. You don’t have to wait for the person in front of you to complete each obstacle
“If you’re on a canopy tour or a zip-line tour, it’s usually one after another, you have to wait for the person in front of you,” Halbach said. “This is more choose-your-own-adventure. You come to any of these poles, and there might be five different routes you can take. You can hop over a person with the equipment. You can go any way you want.”
So what happens if you ‘lose it’ while you’re 55-feet in the air?
“You can hang there and take a break, just rest for a while, and pull yourself up, or you can just call for a person in a yellow helmet to help you through the rest of the course,” Halbach said.
The course is open daily in the afternoon and evening, likely through November. Tickets are about $45 for two hours on the course, about half that for kids under 11. They also have group and organization discounts. They currently have room for 75 people at a time. The course can handle about double that.