By Jane Marshall

 

It happened when I was attending the University of Alberta. I fell in love with indoor climbing.

It was the thrill of tightening my harness, tying a figure 8 knot, then connecting my chalky hands to the holds and stepping off solid ground. 

My desire expanded to outdoor climbing. I bought a rope, quickdraws, and a ticket to Thailand to the famous Krabi cliffs. I got to live like a hippie, dangling from limestone cliffs above the green sea and sleeping in a little wooden hut.

This was my stomping ground, and the stomping ground of great climbers like Osprey Ambassadors Ben and Anna:

 

Years later, I still love to boulder and climb, now, with my kids.

Tip: Did you know? If you join the Alpine Club of Canada’s Edmonton section, you get 50% off climbing fees at Rock Jungle!

The sport of climbing keeps growing. This year, it will become an official Olympic sport, making its in the 2020 olympics in Tokyo.

“According to Climbing Business Journal, an industry publication, the number of commercial climbing gyms in Canada nearly tripled over the last nine years, soaring from 41 in 2010 to 115 in 2019.” — The National Post

 

Vocabulary Practice

New to climbing? Let’s break it down:

Bouldering: Creatively moving across, up, and down rock or a climbing wall without a rope. The climber solves ‘problems’ by pinching, palming, and pivoting on features. Bouldering problems rarely go higher than 3 or 4 meters above the ground.

Sport Climbing: Rock climbing using pre-placed protection, such as bolts or a top rope. It involves difficult, technical moves.

Lead Climbing: Being the first person to climb, and clipping the rope into bolts as you ascend.

 

Where to Climb

Vertically Inclined Rock Gym

8523 Argyll Road

780-496-9390

Edmonton's Original Rock Climbing Gym, Verically Inclined (VIRG) has been around since 1996! Their route-filled walls feature bouldering, top-rope and even lead climbing. You can even boulder up a spiral tunnel that leads to the second level of the building! 

 

Rock Jungle

10247 184 Street

780-454-7625

Rock Jungle is a west end favourite. It offers:

  • Over 12,000 vertical sq ft of climbing walls
  • 2 floors of dedicated bouldering walls
  • 33 top rope belay stations
  • 6 auto-belay machines (clip in and climb!)
  • A dedicated lead climbing area

General Manager Levi Phillips says, “I think what draws people to the sport is how fun it is and how challenging it is for both the body and mind. There’s instant gratification to bouldering when you complete a climb. And for climbing in general there is something primal and natural about it. Everyone as a kid loves to climb and it's a great way to stay healthy and active for your entire life.”

His advice for someone new to climbing: “Being in the proper shoes that fit right makes a huge difference.”

 

Wilson Climbing Centre (University of Alberta)

8707 Ave and 114 Street

780-492-2767

  • Over 2,700 sq ft of bouldering in their ‘bouldering lounge’
  • Over 7,000 sq ft of high wall climbing

 

BLOCS Climbing

8761-51 Ave

587-754-7470

Opened in 2018, this gym is dedicated to bouldering!

  • Over 12,000 sq ft
  • Alberta’s largest bouldering-only gym
  • Training area includes climbing specific tools:

 

Inspiration

Have you seen National Geographic’s Documentary Free Solo? It tells the tale of free soloist Alex Honnold’s ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. No rope. Get ready to be awed.

 


 

We now carry rock climbing gear, and to celebrate, we're hosting an amazing event in our stores this weekend, March 7th, 2020 where you can learn more about climbing basics, enter to win a free guide outdoor climbing adventure, register for a free gym climbing day, and meet famous climbers like David Allfrey and Will Gadd. Click here to learn more