By RC Victorino
Dangling roughly 25 feet in the air it dawns on me that my fate rests entirely on my ability to tie a knot, and whether my wife, safe and sound with two feet on the ground below, paid attention while being taught how to properly belay.
It’s not a situation I’d normally find myself in, but, as I cling to the wall in front of me, at that moment I realize there’s no place I’d rather be.
Can it be? Have I become an indoor rock climber?
Our love affair with indoor rock climbing
There was a time when indoor rock climbing gyms were a place where serious climbers stayed in shape during winter months or honed their techniques for the “real thing.” But over the years there’s been a shift. Indoor rock climbing has become more accessible. Now, anyone and everyone seems primed and ready to grab that rope and scale the wall, even if they have no intentions of climbing a rock beyond the confines of a gym.
While the physical benefits of climbing might have something to do with the growing popularity, Jayson Owens – Operations Manager at Edgeworks Climbing in Tacoma – thinks people come to Edgeworks for another reason.
“Primarily it’s about community,” Owens said. “Sure, people do get in shape — and stay in shape — through climbing, but mainly it’s a place for people to come hang out.”
In fact, it’s not uncommon for people — who have no intention of climbing that day — to come to the gym just to be social.
Feed your rock climbing hunger and find community at Edgeworks Climbing
That social aspect is key to making Edgeworks such a unique space.
Owner Tod Bloxham opened Edgeworks in 2004. He’d been struggling to decide whether to open a pub or indoor rock climbing gym (in Europe they coexist as one!). With his long history in rock climbing and outdoor adventures (he hiked the Pacific Coast Trail solo, and at the time was the youngest to ever do so), Edgeworks just seemed like the perfect fit.
And while pints and shots aren’t served there, Edgeworks still offers the same social opportunities as any neighborhood pub.
On the first Tuesday of every month, the gym holds a social night for its community. During these events, you might find friends and strangers taking part in a silly contest like “table bouldering.” In table bouldering, you have to try to climb all around a table without ever touching the ground.
“It’s hard, and not quite like climbing,” Owens said. “Everyone is equally terrible at it.”
During other social events, the community might gather for a “bad climbing movie night or “black light bouldering.”
What does it take to become an indoor rock climber?
Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much. Edgeworks offers introductory classes to ease novices onto the wall. The first class teaches you how to tie proper knots and how to handle the belay system. Before you have time to say, “I’m not sure I can climb this wall” you’re hooked up, dangling 25 feet in the air, wondering what took you so long to try this.
The introductory class (which is held every day at various times) is slow-paced and, as a benefit, includes everything you need to climb, including shoes, harness and belay system. Once the class is over, you’re free to try out your skills on the walls.
But Edgeworks offers even more than just rock climbing. They also offer yoga, Pilates, boot camps and more, which are included in day passes and are free with membership.
Want to try indoor rock climbing?
The best way to dip your toe into the world of indoor rock climbing is to sign up for Edgeworks 101: Intro to Climbing, which is offered Monday through Friday (7:00 p.m.) and weekends (noon and 3:00 p.m.).
Edgeworks offers daily rates ($17, $12 for students), a 10-punch pass ($140), as well as a 30-day intro pass ($84). Membership costs vary (roughly $62/month) and include all fitness classes offered, as well as discounts or free access to Edgeworks’ many social events.
If you’re still wondering why you’d want to climb up a wall and dangle in mid-air, Owens offers this:
“Climbing is mentally challenging. It’s physically challenging, but it’s also … it’s also a peaceful thing. You’re not thinking about the bills or about that fight with your wife. All you’re thinking about is staying on that wall.”
Learn more about Edgeworks Climbing:
Edgeworks Rock Climbing
6102 North 9th Street, Suite 200
Tacoma, WA 98406