The Midwest Nationals were held here last May, and other competitions are planned. Chris and Pam have been interviewed by media outlets as diverse as National Public Radio and Grain Journal. Customers are streaming in from Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis, all about 2� hours away by car. College students provide steady business in midweek, when the fee is $9 for a day of climbing. On weekends it goes up to $10.50. Monthly and yearly memberships are also available. Though the Schmicks aren't exactly getting rich—they still drive a jalopy with 160,000 miles on it and work in the silos seven days a week—they are gradually repaying their loans.
And Chris and Pam aren't done scheming. Only 25% of the silos' available space is being used. The Schmicks are equipping a 110-foot silo with routes, and they've got an Everest of a climb in the 145-foot grain-elevator tower, which they claim makes Upper Limits the world's tallest rock-climbing gym. In winter they'll dribble water on the outsides of silos until it freezes a foot thick and offer ice-climbing lessons. They also built a three-story apartment for themselves inside—where else?—another of the silos.
"We've got tons of ideas," says Chris, grinning dreamily. "Maybe we'll put bungee jumping inside one of the silos. Maybe indoor sky diving. We've even thought of franchising Upper Limits."
"Everything's going great," agrees Pam. "Except for one side effect: I'm never going to eat soybeans again."