ford climbing wall explorer challenge

Climbing Challenge: Send World’s Highest Wall, ‘Win’ Ford SUV

The “Explore New Heights” stunt took place at the world’s highest freestanding artificial climbing tower in Norway. The grand prize? A plug-in Ford Explorer. Sort of.

Speed climb on plastic, win SUV. It would appear to be that simple. Ahh, but in the realm of adventure, all is not usually what it seems.

Such was the climbing challenge issued by Ford Motor Co. last week in southern Norway. The company dropped a 2021 Ford Explorer hybrid on top of the world’s highest artificial climbing tower, 154 feet (47 m) above the placid woods. Then, it invited all comers to vie for the grand prize by speed climbing a route set by comp climber Martin Mobråten.

ford explorer hybrid climbing challenge wall

The grandy in question? A shiny red Explorer Plug-In hybrid on a free 2-year lease. Take a deep breath, Norwegians: I smell the lilt of American marketing upon your arboreal air.

(Side note: You must watch the video. It pulsates with an energy that’s as devoid of irony as I’ve ever seen in a marketing stunt.)

“Our goal with Explore New Heights was to create an inspiring symbol of exploration and adventure as people across Europe start to head out and enjoy the summer after a challenging year,” said Dan Jones, senior manager for passenger vehicles at Ford of Europe.

What could be better? Well, ownership of the prize wouldn’t hurt. But this is the car business, after all! And as they say, “You gotta pay to drive something.” I guess I can think of worse payments than a 150-foot romp on plastic.

A Quick Siege: Tower Climbing Challenge Details

To claim the coveted 2-year indemnity, contestants would have to sport climb up the tower on lead. They would also have to do it fast, and well; though the setter did not grade the route, the climber who won the car regularly sends boulders graded 8B (V13) or harder.

ford climbing wall explorer challenge

That climber is 21-year-old Leo Ketil Bøe, one of Norway’s finest. He blistered to the top of the tower in 3 minutes, 33 seconds, to claim the win. Presumably, he looked out across the stunning vista to contemplate his victory — from the platform atop the structure, one can see Denmark. 

Unfortunately for Leo, he didn’t get to drive “his” new car right off the proverbial showroom floor. Instead, Ford will keep it up there until August 27, inviting anyone willing to make the pilgrimage and take a selfie.

If you want to check it out, but you don’t crush 8B, don’t worry. An interior staircase leads right to the top, bypassing Mobråten’s creation.

“Hey man, you know you can just walk around the other side … right?”

See Ford’s full coverage of the Explore New Heights climbing challenge.

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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.