Step up to the challenge; `Rock it, Man’

By Matt Coughlin
April 19, 2001

photos by Joe Holden

by Matt Coughlin
assistant news editor

King of Prussia Mall has a new attraction. A rock-climbing facility. The two story artificial rock called Rock it, Man! opened to the public on Jan. 2, 2001.

Multi-colored grips line the stoned-colored face of the artificial rock, some so small as to require a two-finger-grip and others too large to palm.

The artificial rock has four stations of different degrees of difficulty. The difference between the advanced and the novice levels is distance. Two climbs cost six dollars, no matter the level of difficulty.

“I’ve climbed it twice, it is a good time,” Candace Hart, co-owner said. Hart and her husband, Robert Basye got the idea while visiting Basye’s brother in Ohio. “This is our first venture into rock-climbing,” Hart said.

Bonnie Flinn of Bensalem High looked on from the side. “It looks dangerous,” Flinn said. “I’m scared of heights.” Flinn added.

The employees help climbers strap in to a harness that connects to a cable hanging from the top of the facility. There have been no injuries at the three-month-old attraction.

The harness and cable allow climbers to be eased down from above rather than plummet. Some even enjoy the ride down.

“The best part is going down,” Hanna Umin said.

“I’ve done rock walls before, at other places someone at the other end is pulling you up, and this one is not like that, it’s better,” 10-year-old Umin said. Umin took three quick trips up the Rock it, Man! wall.

“Our climbers do range in age from two-years-old to 72,” Hart points out.

“It’s nice for parents because if they are running errands it is something for their children to do,” Hart added. Many parents are unable to guide their children past the immense site.

“Most of our climbers are under 10,” Hart said. “A lot are repeat climbers who come back with their parents.” Umin was climbing with her mother watching from the side.

Ryan Hoy works at Rock it, Man! and enjoys climbing occasionally. “It’s fun, I race friends up,” Hoy said. “I have not lost, but I wouldn’t say I am good,” Hoy added.

“It’s just a neat thing to do, it’s something new,” Hoy said of rock-climbing.

According to both Hoy and Hart, weekends are the busiest. “We have 150-200 climbs on a weekend day,” Hart said.

“Spring break we were busy all week,” Hoy said. Hoy is a 19-year-old sophomore at Montgomery County Community College. There were kids and teenagers all week according to Hoy.

Bonnie Flinn expressed some apprehension as to her ability to make it to the top.

“A high percentage make it to the top,” Hoy said of climbers. At the top, climbers are rewarded with a buzzer that they can tap to signal their success. It also serves as a finish line for those racing one another.

Rock it, Man! is open the same hours as the mall, 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Another site will be opening at the Plymouth Meeting Mall. Hart hopes to have more branches at other area malls soon.

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