Have you tried Bouldering yet?
Many Central Ohioans are familiar with Rock Climbing from Vertical Adventures birthday parties or scouting adventures. You’ve seen the kids or young people hooked up to ropes and climbing up to the top of a wall inside 2-story building. Bouldering is rock climbing without the ropes and with shorter walls or climbs. And Vertical Adventures has opened a new facility for just this sport: Chambers | Purely Boulders.
I first tried rock climbing in my mid-30s and have gone climbing in spurts since then. My 17-year old has recently expressed an interested in the sport. After a birthday adventure at Vertical Adventures, he has found that he really enjoys bouldering. Its something we can both do together. Working out how to complete a route is a good challenge mentally & physically. It’s been so much fun exploring this new activity with him.
For our most recent adventure, we decided to try out Chambers for a bouldering-only day. We had a blast! The gym has a lot of wall space and a great variety of routes to climb at all levels (see climbing primer below).
We arrived on Friday afternoon at about 4:30. The gym had a good number of climbers but there was plenty of room for us. We got checked in at the front desk, got situated in our climbing shoes, and headed off to explore. We are both really novice climbers and stuck to the easier routes for this trip. We found plenty of things to work on and were able to move around the gym.
Chambers offers a Bouldering 101 class a few times a week. This class gives an overview of bouldering and teaches the essentials. Classes are scheduled for 60 minutes and include a 2 week free pass to the gym. Go to their site to register for a class.
We found Chambers to be clean, welcoming, and comfortable. The staff were friendly and helpful. We will definitely come back!
Levels: The various routes are graded based on different levels. Each route has a color coded tag on it that corresponds to how difficult it is. Black is easiest, Yellow is next, and then on from there. Chambers has a chart on the wall to help sort this out. They give a V scale rating for each level. If you are new to climbing, don’t worry about that, just know V0 is easiest. (Learn more than you wanted to know at REI’s Site). Start EASY until you get a feel for it. There is a big difference between levels and starting too high will cause frustration or fatigue.
Routes/Problems: a route is also called a problem. For all intents and purposes, these words are synonyms. You will go to a route and solve the problem of getting to the top. At Chambers, the color of the hold marks the route. You’ll find a color coded tag on a hold or two that starts the route. This is where your hands start. Then you work your way up the same color holds until you’re done.
Falling: You can’t fall unless you climb. And climbing contains some falling. I’m a big chicken, so I don’t fall very often, but it’s always a bit startling when I do. You will also need to get down from the route when you are done, which is a controlled fall. When you start bouldering, try to go up just a little way and fall off. The floor is super padded so you don’t get hurt. You can also climb back down from a route when you complete it, and you need to do this from the higher areas. But practice falling.
Look then Climb: before you start climbing a route, take a minute to look at it. You are looking to see where the route goes and getting a basic sense of how you’ll approach it (this is called reading the route). You are also checking to see who is climbing nearby and where their routes go. The fastest way to pi$$ off a climber is to get on a route that crosses the difficult one they are working on and mess them up. Look to the left, right, and ABOVE where you are going. Also check the area around the bottom of your route. You don’t want anyone’s stuff under you in case you fall.
Lingo: You will here all kinds of funny terms and phrases when you are at a climbing gym. Climbers have a whole language unto themselves. People will talk about a move being a dino, getting a flapper, looking for beta, and talk about going to the crag. (The move has a jump in it, their finger tore, they need some help figuring out the route, and they are looking to go out to real rocks.) This is part of the fun of climbing. Enjoy it.
Gear: For bouldering, you don’t need much equipment. A pair of Rock Climbing Shoes and some chalk. Most gyms rent these items. If you get really into it, shoes cost in the $90 range. A note on climbing shoes: they are really weird. You want shoes that fit tight. Unlike your athletic shoes, you want your toes to be a little scrunched in there and the heal to be tight. This gives you the most stability for climbing. And, hey, they are super stylish! You’ll want to take a water bottle with you; hydration, people!
Going to Chambers
Chambers is located just north of Grandview, close to SR 315. Go here. There is not a lot of parking in their lot and their are a few street spaces close by. If they are busy, parking could take a minute.
Before you head out, make sure to check their website for any schedule changes and the hours for the day. The gym hours change, or the close, for competitions, member only events, or holidays..
A day pass is $19 for adults, $16 for students/kids. For that rate, you can come and climb as long as you’d like. We typically wear out after 90 minutes or two hours of climbing with a bit of sitting around. You can also rent shoes for $4 and chalk for $2. They do offer memberships and 10-visit punch cards if you think you’ll go often.
There are cubbies around to store your things, but no where to lock up your belongings. I’ve never had a problem, but don’t take anything super valuable in with you. Most folks take their cell phone, chalk bag, and water bottle around with them setting it to the side on a bench when the climb. Everything else should go in the cubby to that things are out of the way.
Chambers has a couple of bathrooms and a water bottle filler. There are no showers are locker rooms. So plan accordingly.
Final ThoughtsChambers is a great place to go hang out with friends or family for a few hours and work on a new skill. More advanced climbers will find a lot of great problems to work on. We were super impressed with the facility.
Chambers also sits very near Grandview and it’s wide variety of bars and restaurants. It’s easy to make a day of it – Climbing THEN food and beer.