“You don’t seem that outdoorsy,” said my hair stylist. He’s right, but for some reason that stung. I’m not outdoorsy per se, but I am adventurous and I’ll do things that are outside of my comfort zone, whether those things are outdoors or inside. Strike up a conversation someone I don’t know? You got it. Sample the weirdest thing I can find on a menu? Done. Start a blog? Yup! So there.
Whether you’re a fellow adventurous soul that might not be conventionally outdoorsy, someone that wants to take baby steps into the wild blue yonder, or a thoroughly experienced climber, Inner Peaks’ brand new South End location has something for everyone. The original location opened in 1998 on Monroe Road near Matthews and is 13,000 square feet while the newest location boasts a hefty 19,000 square feet.
Quick terms overview: top roping is climbing with a rope, auto-belay is top roping with a machine rather than a person controlling your rope, and bouldering is climbing shorter walls without a rope. There are about 100 top roping and bouldering routes and the top roping walls reach as high as 40 feet. Each route is assigned a numerical designation for level of difficulty and is color coded. If you want to take it to the next level and expand your options to non-auto-belay routes, you’ll have to take the Intro to Climbing class offered on-demand at the original Matthews location and most Saturdays at 1 p.m. at the South End location.
Be sure to bring water, appropriate clothes (avoid shorts — they don’t mix with harnesses) and a sense of adventure. You can rent equipment or bring your own and the first-timers package includes your chalk, shoes and harness.
Don’t be shy, the climbing community prides itself on welcoming newcomers so, although my climbing buddy and I hadn’t scaled much more than stairs since the mini climbing walls at summer camp, we never felt silly or unprepared. It’s amazing how quickly you can gain confidence in something you were unfamiliar with when you don’t think people are waiting around for you to mess up. This is as much a testament to having faith in yourself as it is to the level of preparation the staff at Inner Peaks provides — both are necessary for your first visit to the facility. We were given individual attention and assistance with our gear after watching an in-depth video that explained everything new climbers need to know.
Opened Dec. 13, 2015, the new facility is outfitted with a fitness area, showers, not to mention a staggering number of climbing options, and has welcomed 2,500 day pass visitors thus far. The community atmosphere at Inner Peaks is as intentional as the climbing walls, with spaces dedicated to hanging out and getting to know other climbers, further fostering the community aspect of the sport.
Inner Peaks has made it easy and affordable for everyone to hone their rock-climbing skills. The new facility is stunning, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and climbing is a great way to exercise while also building confidence by pushing yourself to harder routes and more complicated moves.
Photos: Page Lee