Boulders and Belaying: My Experience at Urban Climb
Last weekend I was lucky enough to have been invited to Urban Climb, Brisbane’s indoor rock climbing centre in the city’s West End. I’m always interested in checking out new fitness activities and events, so I was excited to take part in a Friday night rock climbing adventure!
Thought #1: These walls are waaaay bigger than anything I’ve climbed in my (very few) past experiences. Ahhh!
Thought #2: I can’t believe how many people are here on a Friday night! This place is pumping!
Our guide and instructor for the evening, James, gave us a quick debriefing as we filled out some important paperwork. We were then promptly fitted for a harness and some special rock climbing shoes. They are to be worn much tighter than regular runners; your toes should touch the very end.
After gearing up and sharing a few nervous laughs, we followed James over to the practice wall. Every new participant/member at Urban Climb must go through a comprehensive instruction process before having free reign over the walls. We were all a little hesitant at first, but after a very thorough demonstration and a few practice rounds, we were feeling more confident and ready to try out some climbs on our own!
My friend Chantelle, who was visiting from Perth over the weekend, came along with me to experience the Urban Climb demo. Good thing we trust each other! When you are responsible for belaying someone, you really need to be attentive, follow instructions, and ensure you are keeping up with their climbing speed (belaying) so that the rope remains taut.
Now…where to begin climbing? The walls may seem busy and confusing at first, but everything is colour-coded. Yellow being easiest and black being next to impossible for most humans.
After quickly climbing the yellows, we moved on to the blues and purples. I also attempted a wall that curved about 30˚ 2/3 of the way up, but my nerves got the best of me and I came swinging out from the wall. At least I tried!
The best tip that we received would have to be to focus on using our legs to lead us higher, not our arms to pull us. Our legs are much more powerful than our arms, so this makes sense. When you aren’t used to climbing, you tend to want to pull yourself up, but this just fatigues you and can set you up for having nowhere to step your foot. Once I started relying on my leg strength to guide my climb and relaxed my upper body, I was able to maintain more energy.
James also gave us a demo on the bouldering wall. This is where the “top climbers” train, and for good reason. It is extremely difficult! You don’t have a rope or belayer for this wall, and it requires so much extra strength as it’s at a crazy angle. At least when you fall, you land upon a lovely, soft mat. My forearms were on fire after attempting this one!
We finished off the night by trying a couple of climbing games, including one where we had to wear blindfolds the whole way up! I regressed back to the yellow rocks for this one, but it actually wasn’t as hard as it looked! Once again, we just needed to rely heavily on our legs to lead, and our belayer to keep a tight rope!
I had such a blast at Urban Climb, and by the looks of everyone around me, the feeling was mutual. Apparently the centre has been open to the public for ten years now. Since I am fairly new to Brisbane, I hadn’t heard of them before, although neither had some of the others who’ve lived in the city for awhile. But we seriously should know about the place. It is definitely something that I would do on any given night with friends, Adam, whoever. Even though some of the ‘regulars’ are quite skilled, everyone was extremely friendly and non-judgemental, simply focusing on their own experience. There was even a DJ keeping us entertained with some upbeat tunes the entire time. The place has such a fantastic vibe!
I also wanted to note that they change up the rock locations on all of the climbs anywhere between 4-6 weeks, which I thought was an important way to keep things fresh and continue challenging the returning climbers.
Urban Climb is currently gearing up for their 10th anniversary celebrations. On Friday, March 28th, they are throwing a Rock Stars themed party for members and new climbers alike. The party kicks off at 5pm and will include food, cake, a live DJ, a new arch climb, and thousands of dollars worth of giveaways. If I wasn’t going to be in New Zealand, I’d definitely gather a few friends and join the festivities.
Unable to attend the party, but still interested in checking out Urban Climb? There’s a ton of information regarding scheduling, pricing, procedures, and contact numbers on their WEBSITE, and you can also find them on FACEBOOK. I promise, it is worth the experience! They even throw corporate functions and parties, which is such a great idea! Lastly, they also cater to the younger generation and have a few programs for kids and teens. All in all, climbing is a completely suitable activity for a wide variety of ages and fitness levels.
Even if you aren’t living in Brisbane (or Australia for that matter), I still encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try an indoor climbing facility if there happens to be one in your area. Now that I am out of the whole weekend-bar-hopping phase of my life, finding cool activities like this is so appealing and makes for the perfect night out. I will certainly be back!
Have you ever done indoor or outdoor rock climbing?
I was not financially compensated by Urban Climb for this post, although was invited to experience the demo and climbing session for review purposes. All opinions and thoughts are completely my own based upon personal experience.