Voiles en Voiles aerial climbing course in Old Port, Montreal remains on the top of our Montreal bucket list for families. It’s outdoors, it’s active, and it builds confidence. We visited as a group of five with three adults and two children. Each of us left feeling exhausted yet accomplished. It was a beautiful challenge and regardless of ability, it was an adventure for the whole family.
Athena and I had visited Voiles en Voiles once before and we completed all of the beginner courses and a few of the intermediate courses. I even completed an expert course but I was completely exhausted afterwards.
To read about our first visit to Voiles en Voiles, check out our post Testing our Aerial Course Limits.
This time, we still wanted to start out with the 13-foot high beginner course to get familiar with the heights and the techniques. We were visiting with our friends, who had never tried it before and were all nervous of heights, so it was a great introduction to the courses.
Slowly, we maneuvered from one obstacle to the next, discovering that the most difficult sections could be completed with patience and time. One section required us to shimmy along the outer edge of the ship on a small, narrow plank before crossing a single wire. My friend, Heather, struggled with this area the most. She started to panic and told her husband she couldn’t do it. I was ahead and already across but I could see the panic setting in.
I yelled to her, “Stop talking to Michael and look at me. You can do this. Put your butt against the wall and slowly move your feet. Keep one hand on your harness and use your other hand against the wall to guide you.” I wouldn’t let her talk to Michael because I knew he’d be forced to let her back out. I tried to keep her moving from the platform.
In panic situations, your mind takes over and tells you that you can’t do it. You start to loop and that’s all you can think, but if someone gives you instructions, it’s easier to move. You become like a robot, mindlessly doing what you’re told. Your muscle memory knows what to do but your mind won’t let you. If you can distract the mind, your body will do the rest.
She did it! And she did all of the beginner and intermediate courses after that too.
Her daughter, Lydia, reached a similar section on a 24 foot high course and she struggled to make it across. Standing on the wire, she froze. We distracted her by talking and asking her to smile for photos. When her mind was at ease, she mindlessly starting moving her feet. Physically, she was more than capable of completely the course but her mind got in the way. It was a mental challenge that she needed to overcome and she pushed the limits with every step.
Even though Athena and I had been there before, we still had challenges of our own to face. Our challenges were physical. We attempted an intermediate climb on the side of the ship and one section required upper body strength and one large step to make it to the next platform. We were starting to feel the burn of our two hours of climbing and Athena slipped off the platform. She didn’t get hurt but she struggled to get back up. I was already feeling rather exhausted myself and I slipped off when I attempted to go back and help her up. Within seconds, a climbing instructor was there to help us and rather than continuing on that course, he unclipped us and let us down.
I was feeling tired and needed the rest but Athena felt defeated. She started to cry and said, “I failed.” While our friends finished the course, I sat with Athena and told her how proud I was of her for attempting the course in the first place. I explained that because of her height and arm reach, it was even more difficult for her and she should be proud of her accomplishments.
Rather than trying the course again right away, mostly because I knew I was too tried to do it, we agreed that on our next visit to Voiles en Voiles we’d try that course within the first hour so we weren’t as tired.
Knowing our limits, especially in the heat, we decided to do one more course before calling it a day. It’s an extra workout completing the courses with a child because Athena often reached for my hand for support. While I cherished it and encouraged it, it certainly added to the balance and strength required to complete the courses. By the three hour mark, we were done.
One of my favorite courses at Voiles en Voiles is a 35 foot high course with a skateboard. Although I was too tired to attempt it this time, I did convince Michael that he should give it a try. It was a challenge for him both physically and mentally. If the height wasn’t distracting him, the physical intensity was taking its place. When he completed the course, he was filled with adrenaline. You could easily see he thrived on the challenge.
We each had our moments of fear, courage, and accomplishment during our time at Voiles en Voiles. Regardless of age or ability, the courses offer a unique adventure for the whole family. We’re already looking forward to returning and conquering the courses we didn’t complete this time, pushing our limits further and further with every attempt.
For other adventures in Montreal for the whole family like Voiles en Voiles, check out our Montreal Bucket List.