Mankind's relationship with the world's great mountains has always been a competitive one, the insatiable need to conquer leading many a thrill seeker to risk life itself on terrifying trails such as the legendary Mount Everest. Of course, Phoenix rush hour traffic makes it difficult to reach Nepal before sundown, which is what makes the Phoenix Rock Gym such an intriguing host. Venturing into the great indoors may save climbers from the elements, but it doesn't curb the challenge of this physically demanding sport. With more than 12,000 square feet of climbing surface and frequently changing routes, Phoenix Rock Gym's 30-foot-high walls promise a variety of adventures for climbers of all levels. Tie in to one of the 53 top ropes on hand, throw around cool rock-climbing terms such as "arêtes," "chimneys" and "arm blasters," and revel in an atmosphere where beginners are every bit as welcome as rock-climbing aficionados.
"The great thing about this is that no experience is needed," says gym owner Paul Dief. "Beginners will watch a video, receive a hands-on demonstration, and then they're climbing. The bottom line is we'll teach you everything you need to know."
Phoenix Rock Gym is located at 1353 East University in Tempe. For details call 480-921-8322 or visit www.phoenixrockgym.com. - Craig Wallach
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Taking aim at Ben Avery Range
Thwang! With five field ranges and plenty of distance lanes, Ben Avery Archery Range welcomes Zen archers as well as techno buffs. The pretty broad head course winds through a desert arbor and offers a practice tree stand. Go early in the morning to beat the heat and to see a bevy of wildlife. And pack the bug spray -- this is real desert. Amenities include air-conditioned rest rooms, a shady picnic area, barbecue grills and a playground. Use the main entrance to Ben Avery, just west of I-17 on Carefree Highway. The range is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays until September 1. Admission is $5; kids younger than 18 get in free. For more information, call 623-583-8313.- Kim Toms