First Ascent Initiative

zero-G First Ascent

 Whole-Brain Experiential Learning

An integrated approach to new learning experiences

Rock Climbing based programs

The “first ascent” – a term used in climbing disciplines, to describe the first time a “new route” is climbed. In rock climbing the particular path and the sequence of “holds” must be seen by the climber in their correct context, revealing the sequence needed in order to solve the problem and “slip the bounds of gravity” long enough to complete the climb!

When practiced in it’s most integrated fashion – rock climbing can be equated to a synthesis of – power-lifting, running a 5000m (on your arms), gymnastics, the practice of “yoga” (with balletic precision), solving “chess like” bio-mechanical riddles, all while facing the very real biologically-driven fear of falling…!

This complex “learning task” must also be solved under the trying conditions – time pressure applied by gravity against the limitations of our (climbing specific) fitness and the availability of physical and attentional energy to the “climber” on any given day.

Overall a very demanding challenge for anyone whom attempts it, but one that we (humans) are adept at learning. 

How does the unique challenge of rock climbing apply to life in a wider sense..?

The complex, real-time nature of the “climbing challenge” along with the existential pressure one experiences by just being “at the cliff” intending to climb, arouses a strong visceral response within, which until we have gained facility of our capabilities, takes away from our capacity to fully attend to the task at hand degrading our ability to act in an integrated fashion!

It is in our automatic response to this (unique to climbing) “test” and the combined with the normal “anxiety to perform” – strongest the first time we attempt any new challenge in life, and amplified by how invested in the outcome we are – that makes climbing the perfect “experiential learning lab” allowing us to fully explore our capabilities and how we limit them.

It is in this context, that the challenge of the “climber’s first ascent” is instructive and can be applied to understand and improve our performance response to any challenge in daily life.

As “pressure to perform” is about our psychological response, and not the activity itself – when a new challenge is approached in the context of a personal exploration, rather than as a measure of our ultimate capability, or self worth – the learning experience becomes integrative of our inherent capabilities.


zero-G First Ascent – Experiential Rock Climbing Outings

First Ascent integrative learning experiences are available in a number of formats for all age groups from kids age 5 to adult.

Introducing the zero-G Experience through the lens of rock climbing

Our experiential Rock Climbing programs provide the unique opportunity for participants to experience climbing as a whole brain experience and profound personal resilience available through their “zero-G First Ascent”.

Due to the nature of the exploration that zero-G First Ascent programs are, participants can engage just once or on multiple occasions, deepening the experiential understanding of oneself with each participation.

The zero-G First Ascent

Integrative Learning Elements Addressed

  • Trust in oneself
  • Attention vs concentration
  • Fear/Action
  • Physical Activation
  • Neuro-Physical Integration
  • Decision Making
  • Intuition
  • Partnership/Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Trust in Another

Technical Climbing Elements

  • Safety
  • Mechanics of Climbing
  • Climbing Technique
  • Whole-body climbing

zero-G First Ascent programs are designed to accommodate people in all levels of development:

Kids: ages 3-4 through 8-10
Youth and Teens: ages 10-16
Adults: of all ages 17+

*Note – ages are flexible based on group composition

Programs Page: zero-G First Ascent Programs Page