Indoor Climbing Gyms
Indoor climbing gyms were born as a tool to train, without having to go outside. A very convenient way of training, avoing a long drive and being able to train during winter or bad weather.
It then evolved to become almost a sport on his own, with many indoor climbing competition (bouldering competition, lead competitions, speed climbing).
Indoor climbing is also a good way of getting started with climbing. Climbing is a safe sport, you know how to use the equipment correctly. Indoor climbing can help you getting started with this fantastic sport. First of all it allows you to start in a very safe way, bouldering with a crashpad under you it in fact the safest way of doing it. Second, it is way easier to learn lead climbing (climbing with a rope) in climbing gyms, as there is always someone checking on you to make sure you’re not making mistakes.
I decided to start this database as it was something missing on the web: a good indoor climbing gym database that you can rely on. Easy to use, with a map feature and always up to date.
I’m a digital nomad and a climber. I’m always around the world, and I find it hard to spot climbing gyms when I travel.
For me going to a climbing gym is the best way to stay in shape and meet new people.
Different kinds of Indoor Climbing Gyms
Not all climbing gyms are the same. There are in fact different categories of them.
Lead climbing gym, called also big wall, or rope climbing gyms are beautiful advanced structures where you can (and have to) climb with a rope. In these cases you can either lead climb or top rope.
Top rope means that the the rope is set up already on top of the route, on an anchor, and you’re climbing up to the top of it. This is the safest way to getting started with climbing. In case of a fall the risk is minimum if not non-existent.
Lead climbing on the other hand is when the rope is going up with the climber. Every 1 or 2 meters you will find a bolt (an anchor point) where you can clip your rope and keep going up to the top. Lead climbing is the best way to climb (according to most climbers), but it can also be dangerous. A mistake can make your protection to unclip during a fall. And even if nothing weird happens during the fall (as in most cases) you may have a long fall if you or the belayer are doing something wrong.
Proper training is mandatory in any case when you’re climbing, as you need to be sure you can use the equipment properly.
Some of the bigger gym may have an autobelay system. That is an iron cable at the top of the route that is retracting while you go up. I you fall, or you you get on top of the route and jump, it will lower you gently. At first it can be scary to decide to jump and trust it.
Another kind of indoor climbing gym is the bouldering gym. Bouldering can be described as doing a few very hard moves… on a boulder, hence the name. Bouldering gyms are usually 3-4 meters high and the floor is covered with crashpads. This way you can safelly fall while trying moves at your limit.
There are also speed climbing walls but they are not very common, and they are mostly a part of the gym more than a category on its own.