I’ve been hearing about the ropes course in the Palisades Center Mall in nearby Nyack for several years.
Two of my older sons went with friends, but I was hesitant to take the rest of my crew. My son Nat has special needs, and I wasn’t sure if the course accommodates people with developmental disabilities.
I finally reached out to the ropes course – officially called Palisades Climb Adventure – and asked whether my son was welcome. They seemed surprised I even asked (which was great!) and off we went, two parents and four kids ages 10 and up.
I should have gone years ago. They have a special area for little kids under 48 inches tall called Sky Tykes, and there were tons of wee ones smiling with glee as their parents alternately took pictures and assisted. The course allows for adults to pop in beside the little ones to help or encourage at any time.
When we arrived, we paid and signed waivers, then put our things, including phones, in lockers provided for the purpose. We had a little bit of a wait as there was a school group visiting. You might want to call ahead to see if there’s a group booked when you plan to go. But we enjoyed watching other people on the course as we waited.
I could see that the employees working were very competent at helping each person into his or her harness, and very careful while they did so. That’s a confidence-builder when you’re about to step out onto a course that’s 85 feet tall! The course goes from the top of the mall down through an opening to the bottom level, with many different obstacles and pathways.
Once strapped in, an employee directed us how to choose less crowded obstacles, when to wait for others, and ways to politely pass each other. Each person holds a strap connected to the harness and the strap connects to the course above you with what I can only describe as a wheeled structure that rolls along.
We divided to conquer. My husband, Peter, took our son Nat. I took our 10-year-old daughter Mary. Our 12- and 14-year-old sons made their own team. Naturally, I was the most nervous, but the people who work at the course, helped encourage and guide us on an ongoing basis.
First, we were told the obvious: “Don’t look down.” Peter disdained this advice, maintaining that the point of a ropes course is to get a thrill from the height. I, however, know a word to the wise when I hear one. I looked straight ahead almost the whole time.
At one point Lenny D., one of the ropes course workers, showed me and Mary how to go across one of the ropes “no hands,” which is to say, without holding on to our straps. I was not at all interested in upping my game this way, but Mary looked up at me excitedly and my heart sank as I realized I was going to have to try it. “Go fast,” said Lenny. “Stick your arms out at your sides and just keep on going.” I ventured a foot out onto the rope and every muscle in my legs froze as a slight feeling of panic enveloped me. “Go fast,” I thought to myself. “Go fast.”
I determinedly moved my rigid legs forward as fast as I could manage, with my arms out like a trapeze artist. It worked! Mary followed my lead successfully as well.
The exit of Palisades Climb is another challenge. Each person is encouraged to take a running jump over a tremendous drop onto a ramp at the other end. I asked the attendant if anyone ever doesn’t make it, and has to get rescued while dangling over that cliff-like drop. “Hardly ever,” he said, in a tone obviously meant to be reassuring.
Looking back, I saw Nat and Peter approaching, and wanting to encourage Nat I ran forward and leaped into space, landing safely on the other side. Nat, who did so well on the course, chose the more prudent route, and skipped the abyss. Peter confidently jumped, and we joined our other sons on the way out, where our harnesses were removed and we headed toward the lockers.
My kids all raved about the experience. It was fun and exciting, demanded energy and focus, and left each of us thinking we had guts. Next time, I’ll consider booking a birthday party there.
Amy Kelley is a Westchester-based freelance writer and a mom to adventurous kids.
Palisades Climb Adventure
4590 Palisades Center Dr., West Nyack, N.Y.
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Friday, 2 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Admission: $19.99, $8.99 for Sky Tykes. A six-month pass is available for $64.99.
Tips: Wear close-toed shoes; dress comfortably; no skirts or dresses allowed. Family-friendly attire is requested.
Anyone 42” tall can do the course accompanied by an adult or alone if 48” tall.