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Just dropping by: Odyssey Climbing + Fitness in Ashwaubenon

Climbing facility also offers classes, space for sleepovers/parties

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November 14, 2023

fl4ludyE_bIASHWAUBENON – Every Just dropping by visit that I’ve made has been a unique experience, but episode 14 might have pushed me out of my comfort zone the most – at least so far.

I’ll be honest – I have a fear of heights – so my visit to Odyssey Climbing + Fitness (located at 686 Mike McCarthy Way in Ashwaubenon) was both terrifying and fun.

I had never geared up and attempted to climb a wall of any kind, but I’m happy to report I made it out in one piece and truly enjoyed myself – even from 47 feet off the ground!

I didn’t look below when I was that high up – and even typing this and thinking about doing that makes my legs a little wobbly.

Located about a mile from Lambeau Field, Odyssey is an all-encompassing climbing gym complete with bouldering and indoor rock climbing opportunities – whether you’re a beginner or an expert or you’re simply looking to have fun and get a workout in.

The facility also offers classes and space for “climbing” sleepovers and birthday parties.

Odyssey also has a small fitness area with cardio machines, weight racks and mats for core work.

“If you want a traditional fitness component within the climbing gym, it’s there for you,” Co-founder Sam Howard said. “Membership also includes yoga classes.”

Co-owner Sam Howard said Odyssey Climbing + Fitness has about 10,000 square feet of climbing surface area. The Business News Staff Photo

Sam said Odyssey is the only facility of its kind north of Milwaukee.

“There’s a handful of climbing facilities in both the Milwaukee and Madison areas, but that’s it,” he said. “North of Milwaukee, there is nothing. Both (Co-founder) Ben (Ganther) and I felt this was needed in Northeast Wisconsin.”

That recognition, Sam said, led to the creation of Odyssey.

“The vision for Odyssey started about five years ago,” he said. “Ben (a Notre Dame Academy graduate) is my brother-in-law, and I got him involved in climbing when he moved to Milwaukee after college. When he and I would visit family in Northeast Wisconsin, we’d Google ‘climbing gym’ in Green Bay, Appleton and Oshkosh – there was nothing. That’s what got us thinking.”

Giving it a go
After doing some yoga stretches to warm up, putting on my gear and clipping in, Sam instructed me on how to scale the roped walls.

I started with the easiest route and had Sam by my side – that helped ease my fears as we conversed on our way to the top.

The most difficult part for me was letting go of the holds at the top and “sitting” in the cradled harness to come back down.

For a split second, I felt like I was falling until the belay device slowed me down enough that I could rappel down at a nice pace.

My only problem was “forgetting” I needed to re-engage my legs near the bottom, so instead of landing a perfect 10, I’d give myself a zero – landing smack dab on my rear.

I did the route again on my own with no Sam by my side – success!

With 12,000 square feet of total floor area, Sam said Odyssey Climbing offers almost 10,000 square feet of climbing surface area.

Next up was the 47-foot-high wall – I couldn’t possibly do this, could I?

I’ll admit, I had my doubts.

Like I said earlier, I didn’t look down the entire climb up and just focused on getting to the top.

After a few tough moves – and several excursion grunts – I wondered if I’d make it, I finally hit the top.

After descending from the top of the beginner climbing wall, Rich forgot to re-engage his legs, thus, he couldn’t stick the landing. The Business News Staff Photo

Coming back down was a rewarding feeling – I was happy to hit solid ground again, jelly arms and all.

“You looked like a pro there, Rich!” Sam said.

Lastly, I tried my hand at bouldering – which has shorter walls, but uses more power.

You climb without a rope, but if you fall, there’s a crash pad beneath you.

There were six different color sets of holds on the bouldering wall, so, I, of course, started with the easiest route – and made it to the top fairly easily.

I advanced to the next most difficult color set and didn’t make it too far before crashing 10 feet below to the mat.

I’m not sure I’ll be climbing Mount Everest anytime in the near future, but I think I did a pretty good job and plan on going back to Odyssey soon.

I want to thank Sam and the team at Odyssey for their hospitality and for allowing me to learn the “ropes” of climbing and overcome my fear of heights – at least a little bit.

To learn more about memberships – including rates and programs, visit

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