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There used to be a GameWorks on The Strip right next to M&M world and at that GameWorks stood a rock climbing wall right at the entrance. Gameworks has now moved to Town Square, and they didn’t take the wall with them unfortunately. To my surprise during my hobby search, I found out there are quite a few indoor rock climbing facilities in Vegas. I didn’t get to climb the GameWorks wall before they took it down, even though I really wanted too, but there are some alternatives around the city that are great for beginners like me.

Top Ropes

The facility I visited for my first indoor rock climbing lesson was The Nevada Climbing Center. It wasn’t really a lesson per se, it was more of a session. The Nevada Climbing Center does offer climbing lessons if that is what you are looking for. There are a lot of facilities that offer great deals for lessons or day passes on GroupOn. My day pass included the gear rental too which was great. With gear rental out of the way, which consisted of the climbing shoes and harness, I just had to find an outfit that I could easily move in. I wore leggings, a workout shirt and some socks and sneakers. Nothing too out of the ordinary. My fitness wardrobe pretty much only consists of leggings and flowy shirts. Bicycle shorts have also made some guest appearances. I try to match when I can but its not that often.

The Nevada Climbing Center is home to 7500 square feet of climbing fun. They have three different climbing environments including top ropes, an inverted lead cave and a bouldering area. I specifically got to experience the different level top ropes that they had. Color coding the different routes by difficulty level seems to be a common theme in indoor rock climbing. An instructor went over everything you would need to know such as their color coding system, the commands and belaying. After answering any questions and making sure we had all the safety precautions and guidelines on lock, our instructor sent us on our way.

I was nervous mainly due to thinking I was going to forget everything I just learned. Climbing is a lot to get used to at first. I wanted to enjoy myself while making sure I was also following all of the safety precautions. After a few climbs, I started to get the hang of it and I developed a rhythm. Reaching the top comes with a very exhilarating feeling. Climbing using the harness was interesting especially when someone is belaying for you because you each have a job. The one command that I do remember using as the climber is slack. This command is used when the climber needs more rope to continue climbing comfortably. You really have to communicate with the belayer if you want to get anywhere. They also have autobelays for solo climbers, which is something that I want to try and see how different it is.

Bouldering is a Whole Different Story

Indoor rock climbing using top ropes was an enjoyable experience. I probably climbed for about an hour and half way through, I could feel my arm muscles aching. It’s a great form of exercise that presents a variety of opportunities to challenge yourself. I tried different levels of difficulty in the routes that were available and pretty much climbed my way around the gym. My first impression walking into the gym were that the walls were high and the bouldering area was a bit intimidating. At that moment I wasn’t too sure bouldering was something I would want to try, but it turns out I did.

Refuge Climbing and Fitness is an indoor rock climbing facility that specializes in bouldering. The facility includes 11,000 square feet of climbing walls as well as a variety of other fitness equipment. Bouldering doesn’t require ropes or a harness so the climb doesn’t take you as far off the ground. The walls are still pretty high if you ask me especially when you are actually up there. Well padded mats are everywhere whether its bouldering or top rope climbing. They provide great reassurance if doubts and nerves start to get the best of you.

bouldering
Image Credit: Unsplash

Bouldering was harder for me then top rope climbing. I had an introduction class this time that included a lesson and a shoe rental. The instructor we had was absolutely amazing. Since it was a lesson, she took us around to each wall, demonstrating how to approach it. She just glided from grip to grip so effortlessly, it was fascinating to watch. The first climbing wall, which was pretty much used to teach the basics, was great. I made it all the way up to the top and climbed down using an adjacent wall. I think its more nerve-wracking climbing down then up. She also showed us different styles of bouldering and how the style used can determine how you should use your hands and feet. Everything kind of went haywire after the first initial climb.

I admit, my bouldering experience was slightly thrown off because I did a bit too much that morning. Bouldering and rock climbing in general takes a ton of strength especially upper body strength. I went to the gym before I arrived at Refuge, plus I didn’t eat much for breakfast so I kind of set my arms up in a not so great way. Despite the slightly rocky experience, I would like to try again to see if there is a noticeable difference with more food on my stomach.

What Can I Say, I Had Fun

Indoor rock climbing is an extremely fun activity to participate in. It provides a great controlled environment to learn and develop the skills needed to rock climb. Even though they were two different experiences, naturally, I enjoyed both types of climbing. Using the top ropes is something that I found myself to be more comfortable with, but I’m not going to put bouldering aside especially since I know what to expect now. Have you been indoor or even outdoor rock climbing? If so, what was your fist experience like, if not, would you try it? Share in the comments!


Header Image Credit: Unsplash

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