Gym Climbing

Gym climbing is continually growing in popularity because of the enjoyable physical and mental challenges it offers, as well as its social aspects. Gyms also provide excellent training opportunities for rock climbers looking to increase strength and improve technique. Matt Burbach, author of Gym Climbing: Maximizing Your Indoor Experience, offers a few tips on what to look for when selecting a climbing gym:

  • Wall height is more important than the total surface area a gym offers, says Burbach. Wall heights average between 25 and 50 feet; a height of 30 feet or less offers short routes for the beginner.
  • A well-rounded gym will offer a variety of routes to climb for the beginner as well as for the expert.
  • Ask about class size (no more than six students is ideal), instructor qualifications, and class frequency. Classes in top roping are a good place to start for the beginner.
  • Advanced climbers interested in lead climbing will want to ask whether gym walls have fixed bolts for clipping in a rope.
  • If you're interested in bouldering, look for gyms that offer designated bouldering areas with no top-rope or lead climbs set above them.
  • Some climbing gyms also offer strength training, cardiovascular equipment, yoga, massage therapy, and health-conscious cafés. Inquire about any amenities.
  • If you have children, ask about youth courses and youth climbing teams.
  • If no climbing gym exists in your area, check with your local fitness or recreation center. Many have climbing walls these days.

- Adapted from Gym Climbing: Maximizing Your Indoor Experience by Matthew Burbach, The Mountaineers Books


The chapter from Gym Climbing on "Lead Climbing"

Return to Story Archives Page

Your Cart

Featured Products

Small Feet, Big Land: Adventure, Home, And Family On The Edge of Alaska

The Front Yard Forager: Identifying, Collecting, And Cooking The 30 Most Common Urban Weeds

Avalanche Essentials: A Step-By-Step System For Safety And Survival