Exposed vs. Aerial Extreme
We don’t like to be left hanging here at Exposed HQ – but that’s exactly what we got and then some for our challenge this month at Aerial Extreme.
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Exposed are no strangers to heights. We’ve abseiled, tackled climbing walls and trekked up the odd mountain in the past, so this month’s challenge didn’t faze us too much.
Having stopped for a quick half on the way as a top up for the ol’ Dutch courage, Editor Carl and I headed over to Aerial Extreme to meet the rest of the team. A motley crew comprised of Exposed MD Phil, sales girl Roxy and the team ringer, seven year old Alfred – son of Paul Cantrell, Exposed’s mighty snapper.
Our challengers for the week were a trio of Aerial Extreme’s staff, Mike, Lucy and Simon. Ok, so we had a numbers advantage, but we needed something to give us a leg up on their absurdly fast simian-like climbing abilities. Bring it on.
Aerial Extreme is basically a giant playground. Starting at ground height, the course is made up of 34 separate obstacles such as balance beams and rope swings which wind gradually higher and culminate in a 13 meter (nearly 43 feet) high ‘leap of faith’. All of these are connected by a metal rope which in turn is attached to you by a nifty little piece of climbing equipment. So, although it might feel like you’re about to fall off, there’s never actually any danger of it.
After helping us into some ever so slightly crotch hugging harnesses, Mike gave us a brief safety talk and let us loose on the first section of the course for a bit of practise. It was a strong start and pretty much everyone flew around it in no time. It’s only about six feet off the ground mind, but we arrived back at the beginning feeling reasonably confident. Mike, grinning from ear to ear, then introduced the challenges.
He produced a 2 litre bottle of water, two eggs and some beanbags from a bucket. “One of you will have to carry this bottle of water around the first section of the course. There will be two holes in the bottom and you’ll be scored on how much is left when you get back here. Two of you have to keep an egg in your hand at all times, and the other two will have to throw a bean bag into a bucket from up there.” He gestured to one of the higher portions of the course. Remember our confidence? Yeah, that was long gone.
We set off with Carl up front holding the leaky bottle of water, Roxy and Alfred armed with bean bags, and Phil and I brought up the rear – eggs in hand. The challenge started well enough as four out of five of us managed to make it across the balance beam without using our hands (despite Lucy hurling abuse to throw us off balance) – bagging a few bonus points for team Exposed. Half way around the first section though and Carl’s shirt and jeans were beginning to look distinctly damp. Assuring us it had all come from the bottle, Carl got the bottle back to base camp with most of the water still intact, gaining a respectable 3 out of 5 points. Get in.
We were climbing higher into the course when Phil suddenly let out a cry of “Oh, bloody hell!” as yolk and egg white went tumbling to the ground below. One egg down, I vowed to be extra careful with mine. Until the rope swing. Stretched between two platforms, the rope swing offered a couple of routes; walk slowly across a tightrope or swing quickly across with Indiana Jones style. I considered the egg in my hand and weighed up my options. Tightrope or swing? Safe or risky? Smart or stupid? Eggs are pretty tough, right? I took a step back and leapt.
The moment my feet left the platform, my fingers gripping the egg tensed involuntarily, sending a wave of raw, unfertilised chicken cascading into my ear and face. That was three points down the drain then.
Most of the course, and two missed beanbags later, opportunities for more points were suddenly thin on the ground. The final obstacle, the leap of faith loomed ahead. Consisting of a rope attached to a pulley system, the leap of faith is by far the most intimidating bit of the course. Climbing around at 13 meters is one thing, but jumping from that height is another entirely. Carl, Alfred and Roxy all took the leap and landed on two feet as nimbly as ballet dancers. The pressure was on for me and Phil. He stepped to the plate and after a moment’s hesitation took the plunge – instantly removing all pressure by going for an alternative landing style; sprawled flat on his back. I stepped to the edge and jumped, my stomach was left behind as I hurtled towards the floor and then I too was lying on my back, looking up at the sky.
Watching the Aerial Extreme team was a different story. Whereas we’d stumbled across the balance beams, they took them at a jog – and due to some slightly wiser decision making, their egg stayed in its shell. Dick Dastardly-esque tactics on Carl’s part meant that they lost the bottle challenge though, as jets of water shot out of the massive holes he had put in the bottom every time Simon removed his hand. And none of them fell over. Obviously.
So maybe agility isn’t really our thing, yeah? Despite some pretty valiant efforts, Team Extreme beat us to it in a 12 – 10 victory. Closer than expected, but just not close enough, and ultimately leaving us with egg on our faces. Sigh.
See www.aerialextreme.co.uk for more.
Words: Craig Salisbury. Pics: Paul Cantrell