Until recently, my experience in rock climbing was limited to a giant rock in Walnut Creek Park that my fiancé and I climbed for a picnic lunch.
It may be surprising, but Austin has quite a bit of outdoor rock climbing opportunities for adventurous types. Our glistening metropolis lies at the foot of the famous Texas Hill Country. A short trip to Lake Travis, Inks Lake or Lake Buchanan provides climbers with plenty of opportunities to practice their best Spider-Man impression.
But what is a newbie to do? The best option is to go to Austin Rock Gym.
Austin Rock Gym has two locations in north and south Austin. The north location is at 8300 N. Lamar Blvd. Suite B-102. My hardcore readers may recognize this street address because it’s next door to BAM Academy.
South Austin Rock Gym can be found at 4401 Freidrich Ln. Suite 300, south of E. Saint Elmo and east of I-35.
I live in North Austin so, due to traffic, I decided to visit North Austin Rock Gym. I was surprised by the height of the rocky obstacles that owners Troy and Erica Wilson were able to build.
Obstacles are set up to simulate the angles and challenges presented to people climbing boulders in the wild. The masterpiece obstacle is a 30 ft. wall called “The Big Pig.” The aptly named obstacle has climbers struggling to reach the top hold, a feat of Don Quixotic proportions.
What to Expect
Paul Garner was manning the reception desk when I walked in to Austin Rock Gym’s north location. He provided some Climbing 101 instruction: “There are three basic types of climbing: bouldering, top rope, and lead climbing.
- Bouldering is basically the climber vs. gravity.
- Top rope climbing involves the climber and a belayer (someone who helps control the slack of the rope).
- Lead climbing involves the use of equipment that secures the climber as they move upwards.”
Both top rope and lead climbing require certification through Austin Rock Gym. This isn’t a problem, since Austin Rock Gym has plenty of certified instructors to teach and certify new climbers.
Bouldering requires no certification, but the staff will be happy to go over safety guidelines, provide some pointers, and ensure that burgeoning spider-men and women know how to properly fall.
Depending on your interests, you’ll want to note that North Austin Rock Gym focuses on bouldering, while South Austin Rock Gym is focused on top rope and lead climbing.
Like the BAM Academy, Austin Rock Gym has tiered pricing for climbers of varying levels of dedication. A day pass is $15 and is transferable between the two locations.
Don’t Worry, They’ll Teach You
Austin Rock Gym also offers a variety of classes spanning all three climbing disciplines and the act of belaying. The cost of the classes varies. Some people may simply want an intro class, while others may want more extensive training. Both are available.
The Gym’s hours are comparable to Bam Academy, with most nights ending at 10 PM. There are exceptions, so be sure to check out their website. Speaking of website, customers can find a listing of the classes offered at Austin Rock Gym, book parties, and so on and so forth.
If you’re interested in an alternative way to test the might of your upper body, Austin Rock Gym will happily put you to the test. Don’t worry, the floors are padded.
What is your favorite movie that involves climbing?