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Journeys Through America is a nonprofit organization providing educational material for all school-aged children across the country. The program will form partnerships with local school districts to provide children with a new, interactive, educational experience integrating the history of America and its National Parks. Journeys Through America's goal is to foster a fun and adventurous learning environment that will promote altruistic growth within our children and our greater community.

Taking Your Park Experience to the Extreme

By May 2nd 2011 No Comments »

I stumbled upon the May 2011 issue of National Geographic while enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon at my grandmother’s.  When I scanned the cover my heart dropped, my knees weakened and my hands got all clammy.  Staring back at me was an image of a climber, standing on the aptly named “Thank God Ledge” of Half Dome. Thousands of feet of seemingly sheer vertical lay below and above him. Cue the instant heart attack. I didn’t realize a cover of a magazine could evoke such immediate reactions – but I suppose that’s what the photographer was looking to do, right?  If you haven’t seen this issue yet, take a look here: Nat Geo, May 2011

Now that you’ve seen the photo that I’m referring to for yourself, I’m hoping that you now realize (and maybe even ‘feel’) what it is I’m talking about.

“Yosemite’s Superclimbers” or free solo climbers as they’re reffered to are essentially extreme climbers who have put themselves in life-or-death situations everytime they choose to embark on their next journey.  No harnesses, no ropes, nothing to protect them from a fatal fall if they make the wrong move or don’t have just the right grip.  Reading the article and looking at the images that accompany the story easily made my height-weary self cringe with fear.

Sure, the sense of accomplishment and pride you enjoy once you’ve completed your harrowing journey I can only imagine is amazing, but not knowing wethere or not you’ll make it to the top seems too close to a 50-50 draw for comfort. On our visit to Yosemite back in August we actually could spy climbers “camping out” on the ledges of Half Dome & El Cap – at night the light of their flashlight illuminated their portaledge that hung from the precipice.  Of course they were attached through a system of ropes and harnesses that acted as a safety net, but even then, their adventure in the park seemed like a gamble with the grim reaper.

Other ways to get your adrenaline pumping at Yosemite? How about BASE jumping off Half Dome. Highly illegal and not recommended to anyone unless their willing to take the risk and face consequences, BASE jumping in the park has become increasingly popular with climbers.  Why? “[Climbers say] it’s faster (and more fun) to parachute into the valley than to hike all the way down the back of the mountain.” (Nat Geo). Hey, whatever floats your boat.

I highly reccomend taking a peak at this issue. It’s intense as much as it is intriguing – it’s pure insanity and something that I never knew existed until yesterday, which makes it that much more interesting.  I’d like to learn more about extreme extreme sports in our National Parks. If you have any information on the best spots for adventure or new twists on experiencing the parks, let us know, we’d love to hear!

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