Category: Sports

Vertical World Rock Climbing Experience

Man rock climbingWhile we do a lot of work behind the desk here at CeSI, we’re not a bunch of desk bound sloths. We like to get out and exercise. One of my favorite activities is visiting Vertical World, my local climbing gym in Redmond.

Vertical World prides itself on having opened the first rock climbing gym in America. It opened on Elliot Ave in Seattle in 1987. Since then they have opened a number of locations in Seattle, Everett, and Redmond. These gyms offer several types of climbing including belaying and top roping, but my favorite is bouldering.

Climbing in the bouldering section of the gym is a very unique experience. I would recommend that everyone try this at least once. What makes this facility so different is not the ascent of the climbing wall, but the safety provisions below.

A route is a series of rocks attached to a wall leading from the bottom to the top. These rocks are labeled with tape to designate their association with a particular challenge. Completing a route involves scaling a wall using only the rocks marked with a specific color of tape. A typical bouldering route is only about two stories high (maybe 20ft). Yet, pulling oneself up a challenging route can be tiring. Unlike climbing outdoors, the routes in the gym are crafted by someone’s mind. Typically this sick individual will save one of the hardest moves for last. So once you’re drained you still have the toughest challenge of the route ahead of you.

Several months ago, I was working on a particularly challenging route. After nearly 20ft I still had that notorious last move to complete. While holding on to the wall with one hand I tried to reach as far as I could, but I couldn’t quite reach the finish. Reaching for the finish I sacrificed stability in the hand holding me to the wall. I slipped and suddenly found myself free falling. It was a scary experience.

This fall is what makes the bouldering section of the gym so unique. I fell those 20ft straight onto my back. Yet, the only consequence of my mistake was that I was unable to finish the route. I was completely unharmed.

The floors are designed specifically for this type of fall. Falling onto the floors of Vertical World is like falling onto the world’s largest mattress. This means you can experience the thrills of free climbing, minus most of the risk. It’s even safe to jump down once you’ve completed a route.

But facilities are not the only thing that Vertical World has to offer.

The gym hosts regular events. They host climbing competitions, charity events, and most recently a complimentary BBQ for gym members. The staff are great too. They change the routes out on a regular basis providing climbers new challenges. Probably most importantly, everyone working at the gym works there because they love climbing. The staff are glad to talk shop and give you some tips (even though they offer classes and instruction).

The other climbers help shape the experience too. Climbing is not just a physical challenge, but a mental one. Some challenging routes can be incredibly easy once you see the tricks needed to complete them. For this reason the culture of Vertical World is excellent. Climbers work together to solve these puzzles, offer encouragement, and congratulations when a route is completed.

You can find all of this under one roof in Redmond, in a converted warehouse.

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Posted in Services, Sports

Before Summer Ends

Seattle SkylineLooking for fun things to do in Seattle during the summer? While we may not have the brightest weather on the planet, we’ve got a wide variety of activities, events and attractions that are brilliant rain or shine. Take a look at the city’s summer must-dos for families and friends before summer ends.

Mariners Games: Enjoy watching a game with the family at Safeco field, a modern ballpark with a great views and great fans. While at the game choose from a slew of tasty restaurants to enjoy delicious Seattle food at the park.

Sounders Games: One of the most unique sports experiences is a Sounders game. This team is Seattle’s hidden sports gem. Nowhere this side of the Atlantic can a soccer fan find a better place to watch a soccer match. If you ask a Sounders fan, the roar of the crowd and atmosphere in the stands rivals that of any stadium abroad.

Crystal Mountain: With hiking, horseback riding, views and dining all at the same place, Crystal Mountain is a “can’t miss” summer destination. During summers that follow a particularly good winter, lucky visitors can even experience skiing during the summer months. If you are looking to experience the outdoors this summer make sure to include Crystal Mountain on your list.

San Juan Islands: Offering incredible views, water activities and sunshine, the San Juan Islands are a great escape. Enjoy the sights of the Puget Sound and fresh air riding a Washington ferry over to the islands. Once you’re there you will find plenty to do, from whale watching, hiking and kayaking to shopping and eating at the area’s delicious restaurants.

The City:
Duck Tours: Tour the City of Seattle with the Ride the Duck tour. Explore the city from these distinct amphibious tour vehicles. See the city’s sights on the ground then take a tour on the water in the same vehicle. Experience the city in a unique way by trying a Ride the Duck tour this summer.

Pacific Science Center: The Pacific Science Center is a fun and educational museum which helps its visitors experience science in a new and interesting way. While many claim they are just there for the children, don’t let them fool you, it’s a thrill for adults too.

Seattle Center: Visitors can relive their childhood by living it up at Seattle Center’s amusement park. Or see the iconic space needle and the local favorite musical fountain. Before you leave check out the shopping Seattle for some tourist memorabilia.

Seattle’s summer has so many choices that it would be impossible to list them all, let alone experience them all. This list is a start if you want to try. However, if you manage to tackle this list you’ll at least feel like you have seen a bit of it all.

If you’re still looking for more things to do in Seattle, head over to to find more ideas.

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Posted in Events, Outdoor Recreation, Sports

Basketball Program Helps Students Realize their Dreams

Kyle KeyesI-Ball founder Kyle Keyes has experienced many personal struggles but through them all has found sports to be a means to carry on and find success. As a child Keyes was raised in a broken home where he received very little mentoring or advocacy.  From the age of five Keyes was involved in sports - playing basketball, football, baseball and soccer. Throughout his childhood and youth he excelled as a team leader and set personal records in each of the sports he played.

As Keyes grew older he set his sights on one sport – basketball.  After high school he attended Bellevue Community College, and then he transferred to the University of Montana.  At the time of the transfer he was hiding a shin injury from his teammates and coaches.  Because Keyes did not take care of his injury properly, it did not heal and so he sat out his first year at Montana.  Then before his senior year he tore the ACL in his left knee.  After college Keyes temporarily shelved his basketball career.  However, he  knew that he wasn’t done playing the game he loved.  Once he was healed sufficiently he drove to Portland to tryout with the Globetrotters.  He made the team and his basketball career began heading in the right direction. Shortly after this time he was invited to a couple of NBA preseason camps.  While he did not make any of the NBA teams, he regained his confidence and climbed back from injuries and a harsh family life to show that anyone can overcome trials.

Today Keyes plays for the Vancouver BC Titans in the International Basketball League and during the off season coaches students through I-Ball, a non-profit organization that he has founded.  Keyes saw a need for more affordable professional level basketball coaching in communities and created the I-Ball program to eliminate economic barriers to this coaching.  Keyes wants to give back to students who are in the same position that he was as a child.  He wants to be that mentor, the leader that can help them get past their failures and improve their basketball game. Currently,  I-ball programs are available in Washington and Canada and are supported by a staff of nine coaches, including Keyes.

To learn more about i-Ball visit

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A Kayak Adventure Like No Other

Out on the wildlife rich waters of the San Juan Islands in Washington State,  owner and tour guide Tim Thomsen leads a group of kayak enthusiasts as they take in the breathtaking sights of the regions Orca whales, porpoises, otters, bald eagles and other wildlife.

San Juan Kayak Expeditions, now in its 30th season – resides in the picturesque town of Friday Harbor, Washington.  Specializing in multi-day tours, these sea excursions offer 3 and 4 day coastal and island adventures.  These trips blend various outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking and kayak sailing into one exciting adventure.  Each trip spends a day and a half in Orca whale territory, giving you the most up-close and personal encounter with the whales.   If a guided tour is not what you’re seeking, top-of-the-line fiberglass, double sea kayak rentals and gear are available if you prefer to venture out on your own.   Kayak rentals are also available for larger groups for reunions, families, scout troops and educational groups. 

Sea Kayak Sailing is another exciting activity, exclusive to San Juan Kayak Expeditions.  Specially designed and patented, created by the company’s owner, this sail can enhance your speeds at sea from three to eight knots.  This exhilarating sport has been incorporated into the kayak expeditions for the last ten years, and given the right weather conditions, sea kayak sailing can be one of the most exciting experiences of your life.

If you’re looking for that perfect outdoor adventure, one that is truly unique and one-of-a-kind, come and check out San Juan Kayak Expeditions.  It’s a trip you’ll talk about for years to come.

For more info on these amazing San Juan Island coastal tours and how you can book your own trip, visit:

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Posted in Around Seattle, Northwest Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation, Sports