For most of us, if we want to get to the top of a building, we take the stairs or the elevator. But a group in Tremont literally scales the outside
For most of us, if we want to get to the top of a building, we take the stairs or the elevator.
But a group in Tremont literally scales the outside – one brick at a time.
They start by tying knots, chalking their hands, and securing the ropes.
"Take in, lock down and put my weight on it," said Roger Lowe.
The urban climbers are ready for a workout that taxes both muscle and mind.
"Climbing is very much a sport where that, if the bug really bites you, it really bites you. You think about it every time, you just love it and you want to keep getting better and better," said Niki Zmij.
Niki and Chick Holtkamp climb five times a week. They've traveled all over the world, from China to Canada, and throughout the U.S.
"We don't have any mountains in Cleveland, so we climb the buildings, and it feels the same as climbing on a mountain. It's also fun because it's sort of a joke, " giggled Chick.
It's a contagious joke. The pair have attracted a large group of climbing friends -– not to mention onlookers who can't resist snapping a shot or two while the climbers dangle several hundred feet from the ground.
"You have to be able to keep that fear in check and the anxiety that comes along with the fact that you're going to take a fall if you mess up a move," said Niki.
For these climbers, each move is precisely calculated. They wear specialized shoes to dig into ledges less than an inch deep while they use their fingers like hooks.
"If you have two hands and two feet on, you feel pretty good. As soon as you let go of one hand, you don't feel so good. If you let go with a foot, then you feel really bad," said Chick.
Down below, they rely on a rope to help break a fall.
"So as he goes up, the slack comes down. I take the slack in and lock it off. That's good on me," said Lowe.
Safety is the utmost priority for these climbers --- intermixed with a little fun.
"Don't break a window," said Chick, as he and Niki swung from right to left two stories high.
It's not Mount Everest, McKinley or the Matterhorn. It's a brick building in Cleveland that Chick bought specifically for climbing. It's just where he and Niki and the rest of the group want to climb.
"I just really love Cleveland. I don't want to leave Cleveland. This is an awesome place," said Chick.
Niki and Chick are working to open an indoor climbing gym in the downtown area. They're a big hit in larger cities across the country – especially in the winter time.