Monday, September 19, 2011

Indoor Rock Climbing Venues in NYC.

As the chill of Fall begins to sweep over the city, opportunities for certain outdoor adventures like hiking and climbing will decidedly dwindle. Not to fear though, you can still seek out some adventurous thrills at the many indoor rock climbing venues in and around New York City.

My favorite place for indoor climbing in NYC is also the newest climbing gym in the five boroughs, Brooklyn Boulders, which recently celebrated its second birthday. With 22,000 square feet of exciting and challenging climbing (lead and top roping) and bouldering routes, Brooklyn Boulders is by far the largest indoor climbing arena in the city. Brooklyn Boulders also offers yoga, pilates and slackline classes, and has better hours than other area climbing gyms, open until 11pm or midnight every day. If you don't have a belay partner, you can leave your contact information on a blackboard at the gym, or you can join this meetup group that gathers at Brooklyn Boulders every Wednesday evening, and benefit from the reduced group peak rate of $18, including gear (usually $22 + $10 for gear, or $18 during off-peak hours with gear). If you are a complete beginner, you can purchase the "Learn the Ropes" package for $75, which comes with two day-passes, a belay class, and a one-day gear kit.

Before I discovered Brooklyn Boulders, I was quite content exploring the Climbing Gym at Manhattan Health Plaza Club, with over 60 changing routes and 5000 square feet for climbing and bouldering. $20 plus equipment to climb. Beginners can purchase an introductory package that includes a one-hour lesson, a one-day pass and gear for $60.

While Chelsea Piers also has a very large climbing "wall," which supposedly offers 11,000 square feet of climbing, and bouldering, frankly, I find their facilities to be boring and expensive, and I just don't have very much to say about this gym.

Finally, if you're willing to make a day-trip out of it, you can take the Long Island Railroad to Plainview, and then cab it to Island Rock, Long Island's "premier" climbing facility. This is the gym where I learned to climb, and which I enjoy returning to when I am visiting friends or family on LI. Island Rock has 9,000 square feet of climbing and bouldering routes for every level. A day pass costs $17, plus $10 for shoes and harness. Newcomers to climbing can purchase a "Quickstart Package," which comes with an introductory lesson, a one-day pass and gear.

If you are not purchasing a lesson package, all of these gyms require that you know how to belay and can demonstrate this. Once you pass the belay certification test once, most gyms will give you a certification card, but it may not be transferable between gyms, so be prepared to show off those belay skills a few times if you wish to try out different climbing venues. Otherwise, you will have to take a class.

All gyms have appropriate routes for beginners to advanced climbers and also offer lessons at various levels. You can always bring your own gear (e.g. shoes, chalk, harness), or rent on the spot. If you plan to climb a lot, consider asking the facility about various membership packages and multi-day passes.

Each gym also offers great group rates and fun activities like children's birthday parties. Happy belaying!

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