Activities company founders scale new heights with climbing wall purchase

Credit: Izak Jackson

Two entrepreneurs who met at the Parthian Climbing wall, in Harrogate, 12 years ago have now bought the facility.

Marc Wise and Dan Miller 37 worked as instructors at Parthian Climbing, before setting up their own outdoor activities business, Live For Today.

Previously, Miller from Skipton studied outdoor education and Wise from Harrogate worked in IT, before using their savings to launch Live for Today in 2012, with zorbing in a Harrogate farmer’s field.

Their venture has since grown into an outdoor activity business operating across four sites. It now offers 25 outdoor activities, including quad biking, paddle boarding, axe throwing, air rifle shooting and escape rooms.

Wise said: “I was pretty unfulfilled working in IT, and the idea for Live For Today was inspired by a climbing trip we took to Austria.

“We started from a Harrogate farmer’s field, saving money to buy new equipment, growing into a really robust, exciting business.

“It was a chance to pursue our passion. Buying the climbing wall is a full circle moment for our business, as it’s where we first met and it all began.

“The beauty of indoor climbing is its accessibility. It isn’t elitist. People of all abilities and skills share the same wall.

“We have all ages taking part in our activities from eight to 80-year-olds. The Olympics has thrown a new spotlight on the sport, so it’s an exciting time to buy the wall.

“There’s been criticism about the lack of indoor activities and things to do for young people, so the climbing wall is a huge asset for the area.

“It also offers us a robust business model with an indoor offer when the weather is bad. Now is an exciting time to expand into the world of indoor climbing, here in Harrogate, and on the wider global sporting stage – we might even help train the next Olympians.”

Live for Today grew quickly in 2013 after its founders met the manager of Hazlewood Castle, who invited them to bring adventure activities to the 70-acre woodland in Leeds.

In 2014, the company moved into its second activity centre in the grounds of Ripley Castle and launched offsite adventures, such as caving and climbing in the Yorkshire Dales.

The team now has its head office at the castle and currently includes 20 activity instructors, and an 11-strong management team.

The firm also runs summer camps and activities in the Lake District, partners with the Prince’s Trust, and in 2019 launched its first escape rooms at Ripley Castle.

Reflecting on the business’s expansion, Wise added: “It has had its challenges. When Covid hit, it knocked us to the ground.

“After stripping back down to basics, last year we ended up having our biggest year. I think Covid taught all of us the value of living life to the full.

“Our staff team has grown, and we’re incredibly proud of the hard work, the pivoting and adapting.”