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A new series through San Juan College's outdoor leadership program allows residents to scale the 50-foot Alpine Tower part of the High Endeavors Challenge Course under moonlight

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FARMINGTON — A new series of events will encourage residents to see Farmington in a different light.

Moonlight, to be precise.

A new series called "Climb to the Moon," will allow residents to scale the 50-foot Alpine Tower portion of the High Endeavors Challenge Course at San Juan College under a full moon. The first event of the series, "Reach for the Strawberry Moon," will take place Saturday evening.

Once climbers reach the top of the tower, they will be rewarded with views of the bluffs from Farmington out to the Shiprock pinnacle. Climbers who opt to scale the tower at 9 p.m. —  the latest of four time slots that also include 6, 7 and 8  p.m. — will get the additional challenge of climbing under a nearly full moon.

Mark Everson, a climbing instructor at the college, came up with the idea for the series as a way to introduce the community to the challenge course, which has been at the college for more than 20 years. In 1993, the college teamed up with the Farmington Municipal School District and Farmington Police Department to build the course.

Everson describes the challenge course as similar to an obstacle course. The Alpine Tower is the course's highest feature and includes poles and rope ladders.

"There are many, many ways to get up it," Everson said.

Unlike the lower features of the course, the Alpine Tower provides more of a mental challenge because of its height. Everson said evening climbs will give people an opportunity to explore the tower in a safe environment.

The new series is one of the many ways the college's outdoor recreation program is branching out. In the past, the college has focused on certifying outdoor leadership students, but that program is being phased out. Instead, the program has increased its community outreach.

The challenge course is located on the north side of campus in an area full of cacti, wildflowers and unique rock formations.

"It's just a little island of nature," Everson said.

Annie Willmon, coordinator of outdoor recreation, said community groups use the course for team building exercises.

"It's an awesome tool," she said. "We're very proud of it."

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

If you go

What: Reach for the Strawberry Moon

When: 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: San Juan College High Endeavors Challenge Course, 4601 College Blvd.

Cost: Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at the Outdoor Equipment Rental Center inside the Health and Human Performance Center 

Other climbs in the series: "Outdoors and Up in the Air" will take place July 18, "Astronomy Climb: will be Aug. 16 and "The Harvest Moon" will be Sept. 14. All events have 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. sessions and take place at the challenge course.

More info: Call 505-566-3478.

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