High Ropes Courses - Raise your game

A high ropes course is a challenging outdoor personal development and team building activity which usually consists of high and/or low elements. Low elements and playgrounds take place on the ground or above the ground. High Elements are usually constructed wooden or steel fabricated structures and require a belay for safety.

Challenge course high elements are challenges experienced by individuals, partners, and groups at a height of twelve to forty feet above ground level. Heights above forty feet may be obtained if trees, structures, and taller poles are available. All high elements require a safety mechanism called a "belay" system.

Sports and educational centers, Adventure parks use rope courses for educational and recreational fun, exercise and adventure at the same time, where participant from all ages have a choice of several courses with differing degrees of difficulty.


A high course can be a pre-fabricated, professionally installed course, built of utility poles, cables, and bolts, or it can be a course that is hand-built in a wooded area, where ropes and wire are attached to different trees.

Types of High Ropes Courses

Ropes courses can be described as static, dynamic, vertical, and M-Belay. With a static course, participants are attached to an upper wire, belay cable, with lanyards (ropes and carabiners) for safety. If the participant dangles, they will be caught by the wire. Advantages of a static course include needing fewer facilitators, being able to get more participants up on the course at one time, and allowing participants to do multiple elements without having to be lowered and climb back up after each.

On a dynamic course, participants are connected to a rope, which someone on the ground will be holding onto and belaying the participant on the course. Participants on a dynamic course remain on a belay the entire time: climbing up to the element, doing the activity, and being lowered to the ground after.

A vertical course is very similar to dynamic, except that the element is the climb up. Vertical courses can be: vertical obstacle courses with hanging logs, ladders, and tires or alpine towers with their unique hour-glass shape of activities.

The M-Belay is the most complicated of the two, and involves two separate belays. Otherwise, it is very similar to a dynamic course.


Ropes course advocates claim that they meet a number of educational, developmental, and recreational goals. High ropes course and climbing programs generally focus on personal achievements and ask participants to confront their personal fears and anxieties.

Challenges may be physical and/or emotional. In certain cases, high element programs involve the development and mastery of technical skills to manage rope belay systems used to secure other climbers as they move through the course. In such cases, outcomes often include exploring the fundamentals of trust, craftsmanship, and coaching.

Programs using low ropes course elements or group initiatives are most often designed to explore group interaction, problem-solving, and leadership.

Some of the commonly claimed outcomes include enhancement of cooperation, decision making, self confidence, positive risk-taking, social cohesion, trust, self esteem, leadership, goal setting, and teamwork. In addition to these commonly cited benefits, research has found that ropes courses also demonstrate higher-level outcomes, including increases in effectiveness and efficiency, building relationships, developing understanding, setting goals, brainstorming ideas and task accomplishment.