With Ben Wright by Erica Mestyanek, Editor, Dallas Yoga Magazine
My family and I love to visit the North Texas Outdoor Pursuit Center. My boys like to challenge themselves each time to see how much higher they can climb. It’s a terrific workout that takes incredible focus. Recently, I had the chance to sit down and talk with the Manager, Ben Wright.
When did NTOPC come to be and how?
Over a decade ago our owner, Chris Gibson, was looking to change his lifestyle. He got a warning from his doctor if he continued down the same path he wouldn’t be around much longer. After that, he began to take things outside with backpacking. Shortly after, he started our company Frisco Wilderness Adventures and turned his new-found passion for the outdoors into a career. Years later, he was introduced to rock climbing and was presenting with an opportunity to lease the Historic Grain Silos of Carrollton. The silos we’re constructed in 1950 and ran until 1974. Other businesses have occupied the silos here and there. After a couple years of sitting vacant, in 2010 Chris purchased the lease and with the help of Dusty Pilgrim and Jeff Lee, they rebuilt the facility and reopened Aug 5th, 2011 as the North Texas Outdoor Pursuit Center. Since its opening, the NTOPC has been Dallas’ only true connection to outdoor rock climbing. Every single aspect of the silos is geared towards teaching you how to climb on real rock. It is the tallest indoor climbing gym in the world so it gives us the ability to train for top-rope, sport/lead climbing, multi-pitch, anchor construction, trad climbing, and aid climbing. So, if you want to train how to climb El Cap in Yosemite, we’re the only gym in the world where you can.
What level climber does someone have to be when they attend for the first time?
Regardless of age, skill level, or physical ability rock climbing is for anyone willing to try it. Every single one of our instructors climb outdoors and we pass those techniques learned on the real rock to everyone. Beginning with our 30 min Basics Course in the silos training room, we can teach outdoor top roping. Our only age restriction is that the belayer must be 14 years or older, while climbers can be any age.
I understand you have outdoor activities too, tell me about those.
While most climbing gyms run 3-4 outdoor trips a year, we run 3-4 a month. We have local trips to Mineral Wells State Park, Reimer’s Ranch in Austin, and the Wichita Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. These are standard rate trips that are great for beginners or the experienced climber looking to get out of Dallas for a day or two. These are also perfect locations for scout troops, group events, outdoor team building, and classes in our outdoor climbing school. Our intermediate climbing trips are for those looking to take their skills to the next level with locations like El Protrero Chico in Mexico, Clear Creek in Colorado, and Yosemite in California. Our backpacking trips are also a terrific way for scouts, families, school groups, and corporate groups to take things outside. We can run trips all over the country, practically any location you choose, and they go for 3 or 5 days.
What perks do your members receive when they sign up?
We have two memberships at the silos. The indoor membership covers full-access during our operating hours. As an indoor member, you’ll receive 10% off gear and apparel as well as free classes such as our core skills clinic and technique class. Soon we hope to offer fitness and yoga classes as well that will be included with the membership. We are currently looking for instructors for those classes. As an outdoor member at the NTOPC you’ll receive all the benefits of indoor membership along with free local climbing trips, discounted intermediate climbing trips, and even more discounts in our outdoor climbing school. If learning everything from top-rope to trad climbing and everything in between is what you’re looking for, being an outdoor member at the silos is where you want to be.
The North Texas Outdoor Pursuit Center is located at 1003 4th Avenue, Carrollton, TX 75006. You can reach them at www.northtexasopc.net