Rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, snowboarding — if it’s an outdoor adventure, Ryan McNeily has done it.
Now he has turned his passion into a profession by opening a small climbing facility in Waynesville.
“Climbing High is the culmination of my love for the outdoors,” said McNeily. “Growing up, I spent most of my time outdoors hiking, camping and kayaking, but I also love to teach. Over the last several years, I’ve thought about how to open my own business — I want to do something I love for the rest of the life. Climbing and outdoor education was a good fit.”
Located near the intersection of Ohio 73 and Ohio 48, Climbing High opened in August, offering 550 square-feet of climbing up to 12 feet high and a training area for pull-ups and building finger strength.
“It’s designed as a training facility for those who are interested in learning or have been climbing for awhile,” McNeily said. “We focus on being positive and encouraging each other no matter their skill level.”
He already has expansion plans in mind, hoping to add 1,200 square-feet of climbing in 2014. Climbing High also is available for hosting birthday parties.
Opening a rock gym was the next logical step for McNeily, who has been offering guide services and outdoor education classes locally for the past five years.
“I want everyone to be able to enjoy the outdoors safely. All my classes focus on how to be safe,” he said. “I offer customized training to meet individual needs. We set up a meeting to discuss what they want to learn or the goals for their expedition.”
Courses range from Boy Scout Merit Badges, wilderness survival and wilderness first aid to rock climbing, backpacking, orienteering and navigation, kayaking, canoeing and search and rescue.
McNeily earned his emergency medicine degree from the University of Southern California. He also holds numerous certifications, including search and rescue technician, wilderness medic and MPIC (medical person in charge) through the United States Coast Guard.
The Waynesville resident has led numerous expeditions on all seven continents and has many first ascents in several countries.
Despite his vast experience, McNeily said the most rewarding part is helping others grow into their love and appreciation for outdoor adventures.
“There is a lot of personal satisfaction when kids, who are scared to do something, do it after I’ve encouraged and reassured them they can do it safely and then are ready to do it again,” he said. “It’s rewarding to work with someone who maybe isn’t as good a climber as me or is new to climbing and help them become even better than me.”
McNeily is involved with training the University of Dayton climbing team. He also will be presenting at Wright State University’s The Adventure Summit in February.