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THE SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE
Date: Saturday, March 15,
Illustration: PHOTO 2
Source: THOMAS BECNEL
Climbers cling to 'Zen thing' on knobby walls of Tampa gym
Lots of health clubs and amusement parks offer climbing walls these days, but few provide the mood, music and mountain vibe of Indoor Vertical Ventures.
Start with the guy who answers the phone. His name?
"Alpine," he says.
Um, last name?
"Just Alpine," the guy says. "Like Madonna."
Then there's the climbing gym decor, which is airport industrial park overlaid with rocky walls and knobby holds. And the climbing-gym sound system, which throbs with everything from reggae to electronica.
"Not the radio," Alpine says. "Anything but the radio."
Young people crowd into the gym in the evening, especially on half-price college and ladies' nights. They munch energy bars and gulp sports drinks while talking about climbing, paging through Rock & Ice magazine, or signing up for the next Appalachian trip.
"We like to refer to the mysterious vortex at Vertical Ventures," Alpine says. "People come to climb and end up just hanging around; they can't escape the vortex."
'Magic Pants Robin'
Not everyone at Vertical Ventures is a year-old marketing major or Red Bull representative.
Plenty of families have birthday parties in the place, and lots of companies book the gym for team-building exercises. On those days, Vertical Ventures is more of a corporate retreat -- or Chuck E. Cheese -- than cool climbing club.
One of the more colorful gym regulars is Robin Patterson, a year-old computer salesman from Clearwater. He's got an earring, bushy gray moustache and a blonde flattop, and favors purple T-shirts and day-glow green tights.
One day a bunch of climbers were assigning nicknames, and he was dubbed MPR.
"Magic Pants Robin."
Patterson doesn't mind the nickname. He's an inline skater and marathon runner who enjoys the gym scene and appreciates the cross-training.
"Climbing is a good thing for stretching, for suppleness," he says. "Here, you use everything. If you want cardio training, you can go up and down really fast. If you want strength training, you can pull yourself up.
"You're holding onto almost nothing with your fingertips -- it's a Zen thing."
Americans may be aging and many obese, as a people, but you'd never know it at Vertical Ventures.
For an observer from Sarasota, especially, the climbers seem strikingly young and lean. Not a lot of wrinkles or body fat. Lots of sculpted shoulders and veiny forearms.
Christy Van Heugten -- who is a year-old marketing major and Red Bull representative -- attends the University of South Florida. She started going to the gym in November.
"I'm still a beginner, the lowest level," Van Heugten says, laughing. "I fall a lot."
She took to the sport right away, though.
"I've heard stories from my mom that when I was little, at the Grand Canyon and all, I was climbing over the rocks," she says. "Maybe in a previous life I was a climber."
Not so vertical
Alpine, who eventually concedes that his given name is Chris Brown, is one of the gym managers and climbing instructors. The year-old started out as just another customer, though, climbing the walls four nights a week.
Ironically, Vertical Ventures isn't all that vertical. It's set in a warehouse that's two or three stories high, at best.
Much of the climbing is actually "bouldering," which is low-level practicing without harnesses. The gym floor beside the walls is covered with shredded tires and mats, and spotters help break the falls of climbers trying difficult maneuvers.
Just a few years ago, Vertical Ventures drew lots of climbers from the Orlando area. Now there are plenty of climbing walls here, there and everywhere.
Alpine calls this trend a double-edged sword. More climbers means more climbing walls -- and more crowded walls -- but not necessarily more devotion to the beauty of the sport.
"The whole 'extreme' thing has become more popular, though I wouldn't call climbing extreme," he says. "Society has put more emphasis on self-improvement, doing things for yourself, testing yourself.
"And it's fun, man."
If you Go!
Indoor Vertical Ventures is at Pioneer Park Blvd., Suite E, in the Pioneer Industrial Park north of Tampa International Airport. The climbing gym is closed Mondays but is open from noon to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, noon to midnight Fridays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Daily rates are $11 weekdays, $ weekends and holidays. For more information, visit www.verticalventures.com or call ()
Caption: STAFF PHOTO / NICOLE FRUG / [email protected]
Robin Patterson, 53, known as MPR, or "Magic Pants Robin," scales a wall at Indoor Vertical Ventures in Tampa.
STAFF PHOTO / NICOLE FRUGE / [email protected]
University of South Florida student Christy Van Heugten, 20, climbs a wall at Indoor Vertical Ventures in Tampa. "I'm still a beginner, the lowest level," Van Heugten says, laughing. "I fall a lot."
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USA Climbing & Vertical Ventures St. Pete Collegiate Regionalsstpete.verticalventures.com/crush/
COLLEGIATE REGIONAL | 3/26/16
Lead, Top Rope, and Bouldering Rock Climbing Competition hosted by Vertical Ventures St. Pete on March 26th. These comps were sanctioned by USA Climbing - the national governing body of competition climbing in the United States. To learn more about USA Climbing visit them at usaclimbing.org.
Video compilation by EMojave Photography
All photos and updates for all of our climbing related events can be found at emojave.com/climbnow
Song: We Rise - San Holo
No Copyright Infringement Intended
Vertical Adventures Climbing GymA day at Vertical Adventures
USS Fort Worth LCS 3 pride of Fort Worth Texas!It's all ahead full for the nation's third littoral combat ship (LCS), the Fort Worth.
Built by the Lockheed Martin industry team at the Marinette Marine Shipyard in Wisconsin, Fort Worth successfully completed Builder's Sea Trials recently in Lake Michigan. The trials included operational testing of the vessel's propulsion, communications, navigation, mission and support systems.
The rigorous trial period included maneuverability tests, high-speed runs, power and navigation system checks, rescue boat launch and recovery, as well as many other ship and system evaluations.
The U.S. Military in a Dangerous World : How Much is Enough?A public policy forum presented by the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy
The U.S. spends more on defense than the next seven nations combined. Yet military spending, as a percentage of GDP, is the lowest it has been in fifty years; and is only one-fifth what we spend on entitlements and debt service. Many policymakers worry that we don’t have the armed forces — people or technology — that we need to achieve our international and security objectives. So perhaps the right question is: what role should America play in a dangerous world? And what resources does that demand? What is necessary to defeat ISIS? Keep the sea lanes open? Prevent genocide in Africa? Three of America’s smartest, most experienced “players” will address these questions and more.
R. Nicholas Burns, Goodman Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is Faculty Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and chairs the programs on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, Director of the Aspen Strategy Group and a Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group. Before retiring from his twenty seven year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, Burns served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (–), Ambassador to NATO (–), Ambassador to Greece (), and State Department Spokesman (–).
Carl M. Levin, Michigan’s longest-serving U.S. senator, retired from the Senate in December In his year Senate career, Senator Levin was greatly esteemed on both sides of the political aisle for his integrity, resourcefulness and diligence. In , Time magazine named him one of the 10 best senators. In the Senate, Levin served as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, becoming a leading voice on military and foreign affairs; as chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on investigations, which involved the analysis of complex financial and tax matters. Prior to his Senate service, Levin was President of the Detroit City Council. He recently joined Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn in Detroit as senior counsel. In addition, Wayne State University Law School has established the Levin Center. The Center will focus on the understanding of how in-depth bipartisan legislative oversight can lead to significant and meaningful changes in public policy and institutional behavior. Senator Levin received a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA from Swarthmore College.
Dr. Paula Thornhill directs RAND Corporation’s Project AIR FORCE Strategy and Doctrine Program. She retired from the U.S. Air Force as a brigadier general in During her career, she served as the Air Force Institute of Technology Commandant, Dayton, Ohio; 50th Support Group Commander, Schriever AFB, Colorado; and special assistant to the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dr. Thornhill has a DPhil in history from Oxford University. She is a member of the USAF Academy Board of Visitors and an adjunct professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
Jeff Robbins, a Brown alumnus, served as chief counsel to the minority of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and as deputy chief counsel to the minority of the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. He was appointed by President Clinton as a U.S. Delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission for two years and also served as president of the World Affairs Council of Boston for three years. Robbins is an attorney with Boston-based Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo. He has written opinion articles on American foreign policy for the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and the Times of Israel.
The World's 10 Coolest Climbing Gyms | TheCoolistSeamus Payne of TheCoolist explores 10 of the most incredible climbing gyms from around the world. From Tokyo to Switzerland to Chattanooga, these are some of the most eye-popping, pulse-pounding climbing walls that anyone can climb.
Written and Produced by Seamus Payne for
Music - Formula Fun by Birocratic, available on
Space Medicine Medical OperationsThis is an overview of the Space and Clinical Operations Division whose mission is to optimize the health, fitness and well-being of flight crews, their dependents and employees of the Johnson Space Center and White Sands Space Harbor.
The Putin Files: John BrennanWatch former CIA director John Brennan's candid, full interview on Putin and allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. election – part of FRONTLINE’s media transparency project for our investigation, “Putin’s Revenge.”
USNS SpearheadUSNS Spearhead Arrives in St Petersburg on Maiden Voyage By Barb Haselden and Sully Grasso for Eastlake Blister
The announcement came in late that Austal USA ship builders located at Mobile, Alabama, had won a U. S. Navy contract to build ten high-speed transport ships, known as the Spearhead class Joint High Speed Vessels. The design, with a ' long by 93' wide catamaran sea frame, is for transport, not combat.
Sunday, February 10th, we were there to welcome the first completed of those impressive $ million ships, the USNS Spearhead, on her maiden voyage and first stop at the Port of St Petersburg, Florida, where she will be docked for 2 days.
These ships will be used for fast, flexible and maneuverable transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment even in shallow waters.
It has been said these ships will be the pick-up trucks of the sea.
The vessel is manned by a crew of 40 and is capable of transporting tons 1, nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots and can interface with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities for off-loading tanks and troops.
She has airline style seating for , and fixed berthing for
Other features include an aviation flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations
Besides combat support the ship also has the ability to support operations such as:
Maritime law enforcement activities.
Local dignitaries, including US Representative and Chair of the House Appropriations Sub Committee on Defense, Bill Young, St Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Top Brass from Special Operations Command and Central Command of neighboring MacDill Air Force Base toured the ship.
Beginning to 22mins - 28secs
Captain and Bill Young answering questions 22minssecs to 25minssecs
Tour starts 25minssecs
Total time of video 50 minutes
Over WyomingWyomingPBS takes cameras aloft to explore the sweeping beauty of the Cowboy State and finds etched on the land, history as vast as its horizons and human stories as intricate as its streams. Narrated by Pete Simpson.
Driving a Truck over the Sunshine Skyway BridgeThis is a video of my drive over the Senator Bob Graham Skyway Bridge going north from I near Bradenton to St Petersburg, FL. The view is from inside the cab of a Volvo D13 tractor trailer (18 wheeler). This current bridge opened to traffic in and the road deck is feet above the 1, foot wide shipping channel. The first bridge was a Cantilever bridge that opened on Labor Day in with a vertical clearance of ft over a shipping channel of just ft wide. That bridge had a steel grate deck which one could see through to the water below and made a humming sound when vehicles crossed it. Due to the increased traffic, another bridge had to be built beside it so it could accomodate four lanes of traffic for US That new bridge was completed in Those two bridges served their purpose until that fateful day on May 9, when, on a stormy day during a blinding rainstorm at am, the freighter Summit Venture struck the southbound bridge pier which brought down the main span of the southbound bridge. Thirtyfive people died including several on board a Greyhound Bus going to Miami. There were two survivors Wesley McIntire whose car went off the bridge, was rescued by the Summit Venture, and Richard Hornbuckle who litterally stopped his Buick Skylark 14 inches from the edge of the bridge.
It was decided that a cable stayed bridge was the way to go and they modeled this one after a similar bridge in France so work started just to the east of the old spans in and the new bridge was completed in Feb with a grand opening in April The old bridges were demolished and the approaches (what you see on the west/left side of the bridge was converted into the world's longest drive on/drive off fishing piers.
Some of the new safety features to prevent other ships from hitting the bridge are large circular concrete Dolphin Islands surounding the main piers of the cable stayed bridge as well as several other Dolphin Islands protecting the other nearby bridge piers. This was a new technology at the time and had never been used anywhere else at the time. Infact, those islands did their job as a few years after the bridge opened, a freighter did loose power and made a glancing blow against one of the Dolphin Islands as it was coming into Tampa Bay. It was noted that had the Dolphin Islands not been there, it most likealy would have struck one of the cable stayed piers.
The two dedication plaques at the rest area are for the original span and the new replacement brides. The memorial in for the USCGC (United States Coast Guard) ship the USS Blackthorn WLB which sank in Tampa Bay after colliding with the tanker ship MV Capricorn on January 28,
Tyson, his first time on the new auto-belay device at Vertical World SeattleThis video was uploaded from an Android phone.
TMRO:Space - Life at NASA - OrbitFormer Deputy Chief Technologist of NASA Jim Adams joins us to talk about his life at NASA and amazing stories of the missions and technology he worked on. We didn’t want to stop the stories, so this is a loooong episode, but well worth every moment!
In Space News:
GLXP narrowed down to 5 teams
A Four Planet System Has Been Directly Imaged
Boeing unveils new spacesuit
NASA resumes JWST vibration testing
Dreamchaser arrives at NASA Armstrong
GOES-R sends back first images
TMRO:Space is a crowd funded show. If you like this episode consider contributing to help us to continue to improve. Head over to for information, goals and reward levels. Don't forget to check out our SpacePod campaign as well over at
10News WTSP Live Coverage: Hurricane IrmaCoverage from Tampa and St. Petersburg Florida
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Multilevel Marketing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)Multilevel marketing companies claim to be legitimate businesses, but some seem awfully…pyramid shaped. John Oliver and Jaime Camil demonstrate how they work.
Connect with Last Week Tonight online
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Harper Lecture with Laura Letinsky: A PropositionMore about the UChicago Harper Lectures:
What’s the difference between your vacation photos on your handheld device, a sexy ad for a car, and the $ million Andreas Gursky print on the museum wall?
When everyone is a photographer and everything has been photographed, why make pictures at all?
What are pictures?
Photographer and professor Laura Letinsky will consider these questions and more as she takes you into the world of contemporary photography, exploring her own art-making and that of others.
Laura Letinsky is a professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. She’s exhibited her work at the Getty , the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Photographers’ Gallery, and the Museum of Modern Art. Her honors include a Canada Council for the Art’s Künstlerhaus Bethanien Residency, an Anonymous Was a Woman Award, and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. She holds a BFA from the University of Manitoba and an MFA from the Yale University School of Art.
A destination for inquiry, research, and education, the University of Chicago empowers scholars to challenge conventional thinking. Our diverse community of creative thinkers celebrates ideas, and is celebrated for them.
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ACCESSIBILITY: If you experience any technical difficulties with this video or would like to make an accessibility-related request, please email [email protected]
Owning & Operating Commercial/Residential Real Estate | The Stoler Report-New York's Business ReportNot having a crystal ball to predict dips in this market, panelists name new products and dynamic companies as drivers of New York's commercial real estate market. Panelists foresee negative results from the Housing Legislation Act of , saying it will do the opposite of what was intended.
The Stoler Report, Real Estate Trends in the Tri-State Region, New York's only television broadcast featuring real estate and business leaders, began its first season on television and on CUNY TV in September, (the series has enjoyed two previous seasons on radio.) Hosted by Michael R. Stoler, the weekly program features lively round-table discussions of topical issues in the world of real estate.
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The National for Sunday December 3,Welcome to The National, the flagship nightly newscast of CBC News
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The National is CBC Television's flagship news program. Airing six days a week, the show delivers news, feature documentaries and analysis from some of Canada's leading journalists.
Gerber Motor Sports - Garden Tractor Pulling:: Tallmage, OH, NQS Pull When it comes to the thrill of a tractor pull this father and son team know what it is all about. Together they participate in garden tractor and mini rod pulling events across Ohio. Through the Ohio Mod Rod Pullers organization, Barry and Corey Gerber get hooked up with events where they can put the tractor power and their driving skills to the test.
What makes this team special to all of us at Ventrac, is that both Barry and Corey are employees. Ventrac, joined together to create an awesome pulling machine outfitted with a Ventrac hood.
SOTA - The RULES of the GAME!I'm going to cover the basic principles of SOTA (Summits On The Air), what constitutes an activation, explain the difference between an activator and chaser, the point system, modes and bands used and allowed etc. Bring your questions and lets chat about the fun HIKING WITH HAM RADIO scheme that started in the UK and has gone worldwide!
GEAR I USE:
Backpack & Hydration System:
My Osprey Backpack:
Platapus 3 liter bladder:
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter:
Solomon Trail Runner Hiking Shoes:
Darn Tough Socks:
GoPro Kit Choice:
Wasabit GoPro Battery Pack:
Solar Charger Battery Bank:
Zoom H1 Audio Recorder:
Dead Cat Zoom for Zoom H1:
Nikon D Camera:
Nikon mm lens:
Nikon mm lens:
DJI Mavic Pro - Fly More Kit:
Cooking & Food:
MSR Ultra Light Stove:
Fuel Canister for Stove:
Titanium ml Cup:
Titanium long handle spoon:
Flint Fire Starter Tool:
Mountain House Freeze Dried Meals:
Cliff Protein Bars:
My boonie hat:
My tan US Flag ball cap:
North Face Gortex Jacket:
North Face Shell:
North Face Down Jacket:
Must Have Items:
Leki Trekking Poles:
Therm-a-rest Sleeping Pad(small):
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Eno Double Nest Hammock:
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Elecraft KX2 & accessories:
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m Telescoping Fishing Pole:
AIR Dibrugarh Online Radio Live StreamALL INDIA RADIO: DIBRUGARH
PROGRAMME SCHEDULE: FOR FRIDAY & SATURDAY
M.W m/KHz F.M. MHz
PROGRAMME SCHEDULE: For FRIDAY
TRANSMISSION III ( PM to PM)
AIR Signature Tune/Opening Announcement
Deori Song: Artist: Ram Chandra Deori & Pty
Programme in Mijumishimi
Porogramme in Khampti
Programme in Wanchoo
News in Hindi
News in English
Programme in Idu
Programme in Tangsa
Programme in Nocte
Programme Summary & Highlight
GANYA RAIJOR ANUSTHAN (Rural Programme) /Interview on “Uccha Roktochap Aru
Anusangik Rogbur” With Dr. Pranjal Dutta
Sandhiyar Anchalik Batori
News in Hindi
News in Assamese
CHAH SRAMIKAR ASOR (T.G. Programme) Interview with Metka Murmoo on his Life and
Contribution towards Tea Garden Community
Adhunik Geet: Artist: Jutika Bhuyan Saikia
Time & Metre Reading: Jivanar Digh Bani (Radio Autobiography) Interview with Homen Borgohain (Eminent Writer, Journalist) Interviewer Jayanti Chutia
English TalkTalk on “Biochar: Future for Enviroment Management” By Prof. Dilip Kr. Patgiri
News at Nine:
Bare Rahania: (Guitar Recital) Artist: Utpal Deori
Nishar Anchalik Batori
North East Collage
National Programme Feature in English Titled “Bapu’s Footstep in North East”
PROGRAMME SCHEDULE: For SATURDAY
TRANSMISSION I ( AM to AM)
AIR Signature Tune:
Vandemataram/ Opening Announcement Mangalvadya
Bhaktigeeti: 1. Artist: Gopa Konwar (Borgeet-Madhabdev) 2.Artist: Pradip Khanikar (Diha Nam), 3. Artist: Ratikanta Rajbongshi & Smriti Rekha Kalita (Lokageet) 4. Artist: Ajit Gogoi (Tokarigeet), 5. Artist: Malabika Ghosh (Bhajan)
News in Hindi:
Gandhi Chinta & Programme Summary:
Swasthya Charcha: Interview on “Korkot Rog” With Dr. Gayatri Gogoi Part: I
Borgeet: Artist: Bornali Bora
Classical Music: (Vocal) Artist: Pandit. C.R. Vyas Raga: Bhairav Bahar
Folk Music: (Lokageet) Artist: Ratikanta Rajbongshi
News in Assamese
“Ajir Dinto” /(Morning Information Programme)
Quotation: GEETANJALI: 1.Artist: Khagen Mahanta Lyc: Keshab Mahanta Bondho Asile… 2. Artist: Khagen Dutta Lyc: Nagen Borah Monot Porene… 3. Artist: Kalpana Kalita Lyc: Fazlul Karim, Mor Son… 4. Artist: Kishore Das Lyc: Hiren Bhattacharya, Tor Banhit… 5. Artist: Kalpana Hazarika Lyc: Dijendra Mohan Sarmah, Jor Paati…
North East News Bulletin in English:
SURAR PANCHOI (Composite) Assamese Film Songs
Puwar Anchalik Batori
Quotation –-“ANTARA” (Composite) Hindi Film Songs
TRANSMISSION II ( AM to PM)
AIR Signature Tune/Opening Announcement
News in English
Folk Song: (Diha Naam) Artist: Manu Buragohain & Pty.
Hindi Film Song: Film: Sanam Re, Saawariya, Singham Returns, Shivaay
News in English:
News in Hindi:
News in Assamese:
Adhunik Geet: Artist: Jupitara Kakoti
TRANSMISSION III ( PM to PM)
AIR Signature Tune/Opening Announcement
Mishing Songs: Artist: Subho Pegu & Pty.
Programme in Mijumishimi
Programme in Khampti
Programme in Wancho
News in Hindi
News in English.
Programme in Idu
Programme in Tangsa
Programme in Nocte
GANYA RAIJOR ANUSTHAN (Rural Programme) Interview on “Krishi Patharot Jalasinchan Aru Jalanishkashan” With Dr. Bipul Deka
Sandhiyar Anchalik Batori
The Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind’s Address to the Nation on the eve of 71st Republic Day
Of India Followed by Marshal Tune
News in Assamese
Time & Metre Reading “Ekalabya” Sponsored Programme of K.K. Handique State Open University
Geetar Sarai: Artist: Shibani Konwar Production: Rajendra Kr. Das
News at Nine
Bare Rahania: (Deshpremmolak Geet)
Nishar Anchalik Batori:
Assamese Version of the Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kobind’s Address to the Nation Followed by Marshal Tune
B’cast of Recordings of “Sarba Bhasha Kobi Sanmilon ” (National Symposium of Poets)
For an air-conditioned Florida adventure, check out Vertical Ventures, Tampa's indoor rock climbing adventure spot.
Tampa Bay Snow Skiers and Boarders Club puts together trips all over the U.S and the rest of the world. They offer great packages all throughout the ski season. Tampa Bay Snow Skiers and Boarders
The Tampa Bay Ski Club operates in conjunction with Bowen Travel to bring you great savings on ski adventures.
Tampa Bay Ski Club
Swamp Club is the area mountain bike club that maintains and creates the trails at several regional parks. For info about where to ride or group rides visit their site.
Think there is no hiking in Florida? If so you should check out the Florida Trail. The Florida Trail is a series of trails that can be connected for a thru hike of the entire state from the panhandle to the glades. Check out the site for backpacking info or spots for dayhikes.
Hillsborough County also has a great variety of local trails to explore.
Hillsborough County Trails
Adventures here and Abroad
Tampa Adventure Group
Hosting local day outings and expeditions all over the world.
Want to paddle a blackwater river filled with Cypress trees and wildlife within an easy drive of downtown Tampa? Then check out Canoe Escape. They offer self-guided canoe rentals and shuttles that allow you to paddle down the Hillsborough River. If you haven't paddled this river and you love outdoor adventure, you have been missing out!
What images come to mind when I say the word Florida? I recently posed this very question a friend who lives out of state and she responded with a sad, yet accurate description of arguably one of the weirdest places in the US. “Florida? Um…the beach, Disney World, hate crimes—Oh! Didn’t a guy eat someone’s face off there? That place is a disaster!” Too true. One thing that certainly never comes to mind is mountainous terrain. Florida is primarily a flat state, the majority of which barely peeks above sea level. Its highest point is a pathetic feet (a fourth of the size of the Empire State Building) and even this may be overreaching as the hilltop, located in the panhandle, basically belongs to Alabama. With all the flatness surrounding Floridians, I was surprised to learn that Tampa has an avid and active rock climbing community.
Its probably not a stretch to say that Vertical Ventures (VV), a rock climbing gym on Pioneer Park Boulevard, is at the heart and center of Tampas climbing community. When I asked gym owner Chris Brown what made the climbing community in Tampa unique, he said A better question is what makes the climbing community in Tampa, period. This place. This is where people can come to build relationships and have fun. Its the nicest facility in the area.
Id visited the gym on a Friday night to interview climber and ultimate gal pal Gina Larsen and experience the gym first hand. I wanted to find out why so many people in Tampa are crazy about a sport that seems counterintuitive given the environment in which they live. Like most good things, it is hard to describe. I dont know, said Gina. You just fall in love with it and it becomes part of who you are. I couldn’t imagine my life without climbing.
As I walked into the gym, almost all of my senses were tantalized. Multicolored patterns of hand and foot holds representing varying levels of climbing difficulty were fixed to every available surface, a DJ was pumping some heavy bass into my ears, a squishy padded floor added extra bounce to my step, and the smell of sheer determination (aka sweaty ball sack) smacked me in the face. I was immediately intimidated by what I saw.
A DJ spins every Friday night image courtesy of Chris Brown
It seemed like almost everyone there was a living example of the perfect human form, a eugenicists dream. I was surrounded by men and women who might as well have been sculpted by fucking Michelangelo himself. Gina could probably read the fear on my face and told me not to worry about looking stupid or out of place. While Ive never been afraid of looking stupid, I have almost always been afraid of falling off a wall and breaking my back in front of attractive strangers. For this reason, I prefer a lower-key climbing move that I like to call scuttling”, but is apparently called traversing in legit climbing circles. Traversing involves using hand and foot holds to climb across a wall, in my case the lower portion of the wall, a very safe and comfortable distance from terra firma.
As I scuttled along, I observed people using harnesses or their bare hands to climb colorful paths up, across, and down each surface of the gym. Some thoughtfully watched as fellow climbers slowly and meticulously followed the paths. Others worked independently, concentrating on some secret problem or goal that only they understood. The more people I observed and met, the more I could understand Ginas love affair with climbing. Not only is climbing physically challenging, it also requires significant mental acuity and problem solving skills.
Brown explained, Rock climbing is all about solving problems. You need to build the requisite physical strength, but after that its all about your mental abilities. For whatever reason, being able to follow these pieces of colored duct tape on the wall gives people a sense of accomplishment that maybe they don’t get in their everyday lives.” I could see this play out as I watched a shirtless Ian Sutherland try repeatedly to get past an orange plastic foothold that had been giving him the business all evening. Witnessing his determination and defeat, I could imagine the sense of accomplishment he would feel when he finally overcame that orange, plastic bastard.
Rock wall- image courtesy of Chris Brown
Sense of community seems to be another major draw for climbers at VV. All of the gym regulars know one another and spend time together out in the real world. When I asked about the possible incongruity of such a strong sense of community surrounding a very individual sport, Gina explained that although people at VV definitely have their own individual goals, its really important to have a community and feed off of each others energies and work through problems together.
Fellow VV climber Aroldo Vitorio, who recently moved to Tampa from Washington DC, said that the climbing community in Tampa is much more appreciative and laid back than in other places he has lived. The cool thing about the community in Tampa that I have noticed is that when you go on a climbing trip it is super epic [everyone] comes out because they don’t always have the opportunity to do outdoor climbs. They don’t take it for granted.
Although the Tampa climbing community seems to be tight-knit, it is not exclusionary. According to Brown whose personal motto is probably be cool, his goal was to create a welcoming space with a cool vibe…like a tree fort for adults. Whether you are a seven year old kid or a thirty-seven year old kid, you can come here to have a good time with cool people.
If you are interested in trying your hands and feet at climbing, Id definitely recommend visiting Vertical Ventures. If you are nervous about climbing for the first time, try visiting the gym with a few friends on a Friday night. A lot of newbies along with some regulars climb on Fridays and the DJ makes the whole experience seem more like a party than a work out. Also, I highly recommend the scuttling.
Rock Climbing Lingo
Here is a list of rock climbing terms that you can memorize so you dont look like an asshole if you decide to try climbing. Thanks to Gina Larsen, Aroldo Vitorio, Ian Sutherland, Kendall Melendi, and Chris Brown for defining these terms for me. I hope they are all real and I wasnt being bullshittedbullshatwhatever.
- Route A path used to reach the top of a rock or wall
- Beta A sequence of moves that help you get to the top
- Sending Short for ascending; solving or finishing a route;
- Let me give you some beta T ell you how to solve the problem
- Spray When you are telling someone how to complete a route but they don’t want help.
- Sprayed down/ throwing beta W hen someone tells you how to tackle every part of a route
- Dirt bag climber Someone with a pair of shoes and a chalk bag who hangs out or lives in climbing areas.
- Crux The hardest part of a route; a route can have multiple cruces.
- Ticktacking Grabbing smaller parts of the wall
Vertical Ventures is located at Pioneer Park Blvd Suite E Tampa, FL
Open Tuesday Thursday 2pm 10pm, Friday 2pm 12am, Saturday 10am 10pm, and Sunday 10am 6pm .
All images courtesy of photographer and Vertical Ventures owner Chris Brown. To see more of his work, visit www.highexposures.com.
Rock wall- courtesy of Chris Brown
Rock wall- courtesy of Chris Brown
Bouldering is done without ropes or harnesses. - courtesy of Chris Brown
A DJ spins every Friday night - Chris Brown
Tampa vertical adventures
Regardless of the lack of natural cliffs, rock climbing has seen a flourishing fanbase appear in Florida.
And at USF St. Petersburg, the new student Rock Climbing Club is trying to make its passion infectious.
Brandon Burke, a junior at USFSP, started the club in January to find other passionate rock climbers. He saw the growing student body and the nearby rock climbing facility, Vertical Ventures, as the perfect combination.
The club’s meetings are held on Fridays at Vertical Ventures, a state-of-the-art indoor climbing gym.
“It’s a lot more fun when you go there with a group of people,” Burke said. “There’s a huge resource with thousands of students, and young people love to climb.”
When he first tried to start the club in the fall, Burke said he had trouble finding officers.
But his hopes were restored at the start of the spring semester when Brian Dinsmore, a transfer student from Colorado, contacted Burke after he saw the group’s Facebook page.
Burke said Dinsmore, who is an experienced climber, has been instrumental in the club’s growth.
The pair recruited about 20 people during the college’s Get On Board Day event, and have been adding members since.
Vertical Ventures offers severalclasses for beginners starting with the required “Intro to Belay” class that teaches inexperienced climbers how to safely manage equipment.
“One of the first (classes) we took as a group was the intro to movement class,” Burke said. “It’s basically technique and learning how to climb with form, not strength.”
A variety of climbs can be found at the facility including a top-roping section, bouldering area and a more specialized sector for advanced climbers known as “The Pit.”
Burke also spoke with the president of USF Tampa’s Rock Climbing Club, hoping to bring the organizations together to climb at one of the two Vertical Ventures locations in Tampa or St. Petersburg.
Though still in its infancy, the club has started planning trips to put their training to the test in authentic, outdoor environments.
“Alabama is in May, June is Colorado,” Burke said. “By the end of the year, we’re looking at a couple different spots, like Chimney Rock in North Carolina.”
The Rock Climbing Club has something to offer everyone, from seasoned veterans to aspiring climbers.
“I think it could eventually blow up. It’s a great time and a cool, dynamic way for students to get off campus.”
USFSP Rock Climbing Club meetings
When: Fridays at p.m.
Where: Vertical Ventures St. Petersburg, 18th St S.
Visit the USFSP Rock Climbing Club on Facebook for updates and information on the club’s upcoming activities.
Written by: Jason Saabon March 7,
Last revised by: Jessica JagodzinskiMay 11,
Vertical Ventures' co-owner sent explicit videos, messages to undercover officer, say St. Pete police
ST. PETERSBURG — The co-owner of the climbing gym Vertical Ventures was arrested Wednesday on charges that he sent sexually explicit messages and videos to who he thought was a year-old girl, according to police.
It was actually an undercover St. Petersburg detective.
Christopher Brown, 41, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on 10 counts of transmission of harmful material to a minor and one count of the unlawful use of a two-way device, according to jail records.
Brown started messaging the “teen” via an unspecified social media app last month and continued through September, according to arrest reports. He knew he was communicating with a minor, St. Petersburg police say, and used his phone to send explicit messages and videos.
He also had “sexually explicit” conversations with who he believed was a year-old girl, police say. He sent pornographic-like videos as a way of suggesting the acts he wished to engage in with the teen, police say.
Vertical Ventures is located at 18th St. S and has several different artificial rock walls that patrons can climb. Brown had been a co-owner at the gym since , said another co-owner, Hal Thureson.
He told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday that Brown is no longer associated with the gym’s management.
“Since we don’t accept or tolerate this inappropriate behavior we are parting ways with Chris Brown,” Thureson said. “We want to assure our customers and employees that we are open for business and that we do not tolerate this behavior.”
Thureson said did not believe that the allegations involved any of the gym’s staffers or members.
Brown was freed from the Pinellas County jail on Wednesday night after posting $, bail. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
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Rock-climbing reaches new heights in Florida
Business continues to grow for the owners of Vertical Ventures. The indoor rock-climbing facility attracts experienced climbers and beginners.
Chris Brown and his partners purchased the Tampa location at Pioneer Park Blvd. nearly 10 years ago.
"It is one of those rare things that gets you completely involved in the moment," said Brown of rock climbing. "It completely engages you in the moment."
Brown and his partners are expanding operations. The second facility opens in St. Petersburg later this month. The 20, square foot building, located at 18th Street S., is situated on the Pinellas Trail with easy access to Tropicana Field and local breweries. A dedicated parking lot provides space for cars.
"Vertical Ventures is Florida's biggest and newest climbing gym," Brown said of the new facility on 18th Street South .
The location offers more than climbing routes. A members-only training area provides access to weights and cardio equipment. Classes are available for beginners.
"Ninety-five percent of the people who come in are first-timers," at the Tampa location, Brown explained. It's a trend he expects will continue in St. Petersburg.
"It's a powerful feeling I think everyone wants to experience because you leave the worries of your day behind and are fully engaged. It's stretching all your muscles. It is very similar to yoga except you are moving up a vertical wall," he said.
The building's tallest wall is 40 feet high. It's part of the project's first phase. Brown says phase two includes working with local vendors to provide food and drinks for customers. The second floor service is expected to open in
Vertical Ventures provides multiple options for those who want to indoor rock climb:
- 1 hour - $10
- All Day - $18
- Class - $25 plus unlimited opportunities to return for two weeks