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Scaling new heights in Harrogate...

Two local entrepreneurs who met at the Parthian Climbing wall in Harrogate 12 years ago have now bought the facility, as climbing is set to be the hottest Olympic sport in 2024. It will henceforth be known as ‘Live For Today Climbing Centre’.

Marc Wise, 39, and Dan Miller, 37, worked as instructors at Parthian Climbing, before setting up their own outdoor activities business, Live For Today. Previously, Dan from Skipton studied outdoor education and Marc from Harrogate worked in IT, before using their savings to launch Live for Today in 2012, with zorbing in a Harrogate farmer’s field. It has since grown into a leading outdoor activity business operating across four sites.

Live For Today now has 25 outdoor activities, including quad biking, paddle boarding, axe throwing, air rifle shooting and escape rooms. Buying the climbing wall marks a significant moment for the pair. Marc Wise, co-founder of Live For Today, said: “The idea for Live For Today was inspired by a climbing trip we took to Austria. We started from a Harrogate farmer’s field, saving money to buy new equipment, growing into a really robust, exciting business. It was a chance to pursue our passion. Buying the climbing wall is a full circle moment for our business, as it’s where we first met and it all began.”

The business grew quickly in 2013 after the pair went to the Harrogate Chamber’s business safari event and met the manager of Hazlewood Castle, who invited them to bring adventure activities to the 70-acre woodland in Leeds.

In 2014, Live For Today moved into their second activity centre in the grounds of Ripley Castle and launched offsite adventures, such as caving and climbing in the Yorkshire Dales. The team now has their head office at the castle.

It then expanded with summer camps, new activities in the Lake District, partnering with the Prince’s Trust, and in 2019, launching their first escape rooms at Ripley Castle. Climbing was a breakout event at Tokyo’s Olympics, and is set to become one of the world’s fastest-growing sports as the Paris Games takes place from 26 July to 11 August 2024. In Paris, athletes will compete in two disciplines – boulder and lead, and a new speed event.

The Association of British Climbing Walls say the sport is growing by 20% a year; around a million people in the UK currently climb indoors each year. In the US, around 12 million climb indoors, and celebrities including Harry Styles, Lady Gaga, Lewis Hamilton and Brie Larson have spoken of their love for the sport. Marc said: “The beauty of indoor climbing is its accessibility. It isn’t elitist. People of all abilities and skills share the same wall. We have all ages taking part in our activities from eight to 80-year-olds. The Olympics has thrown a new spotlight on the sport, so it’s an exciting time to buy the wall.” Live For Today has had over 100,000 customers since it launched in 2012, with 2,250 five-star reviews. The team features 20 activity instructors, and a 11-strong management team.

Marc said: “It has had its challenges. When Covid hit, it knocked us to the ground. After stripping back down to basics, last year we ended up having our biggest year. I think Covid taught all of us the value of living life to the full. Our staff team has grown, and we’re incredibly proud of the hard work, the pivoting and adapting. Acquiring the climbing wall is really significant and special as it is where it all began. We’re ready for the next level.”

Marc added: “There’s been criticism about the lack of indoor activities and things to do for young people, so the climbing wall is a huge asset for the area. It also offers us a robust business model with an indoor offer when the weather is bad. Now is an exciting time to expand into the world of indoor climbing, here in Harrogate, and on the wider global sporting stage - we might even help train the next Olympians.” Live For Today is known for crafting adventure experiences designed to make your ‘heart race and your soul soar’.

It offers a wide range of activities from team building for corporates and businesses, hen parties to school and children’s party adventure activities. Marc said: “If parents feel stuck about creating an adventure near to home that their kids will love and always remember, we offer games and adventures for young explorers, with a healthy dose of adventure in the great outdoors. Kids can try out climbing, archery and bushcraft to suit different age groups, or check out a bubble mayhem party with body zorbing or bubble football, which is also great for adults who are kids at heart.” The team run regular kids camps too during the summer at the holiday adventure camps for children aged 8-12 in the grounds of Ripley Castle. Activities include High Ropes, water sports, and archery across a three-day camp; all equipment is provided. For corporate adventure, they promise to transform your team with exhilarating experiences in Yorkshire’s majestic settings.

Marc added: “I think with the dominance of Zoom and isolation of home and hybrid working, these activities can really pull teams together, strengthen bonds and invigorate a team. Everyone is ready to embrace the great outdoors and spend time together.”

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