New Ripon CA Climbing Gym opens with a large facility
Learning the ropes takes on a whole new meaning when you’re 55 feet in the air and hooked to just one.
Still, the staff at Ripon’s new Alpine Climbing Adventure Fitness are determined to turn everyone who walks through its doors into climbers. The new from-scratch facility on Garrison Road is hard to miss, as it presents an impressive profile when viewed from Highway 99.
The combination indoor climbing gym and fitness center opened to the general public this week after a few months of being open to members only. The ambitious project took more than five years for Ripon resident and Alpine co-owner Jonathan Meek, who is working with a team of business partners on the development.
Now it is ready to show off and attract both professional climbers, amateur enthusiasts and beginners.
“It was part of the vision from the very beginning. To create a place where families could all come together,” Meek said. “Come as you are and leave stronger than you came.”
As you enter the centre, the climbing hall – which has three distinct sections – appears large and colorful in the background. The largest and highest section is the most difficult with its belay and rope walls. This section also includes the center’s Olympic-size speed wall, with its dueling lanes for racing.
The gym has ropes, bouldering, climbing walls for children
The central section of the gymnasium is the bouldering area with a large structure for free climbing. And then there’s the kid-friendly Adventure Center with its beginner walls and play structures.
In all sections, colorful (and ever-changing) holds create a rainbow of color across the gymnasium. It is the second indoor climbing center in the region, but by far the largest center of its type in the region. Meek said to find a facility of the same size and reach, climbers typically head to Sacramento or the Bay Area.
But given the center’s proximity to the internationally renowned rock climbing destination of Yosemite National Park and the sport’s debut at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, Meek and his business partners have been betting on growing interest in the Central Valley. for climbing as a family hobby.
The center caters for all skill levels, with lessons and equipment rentals for beginners and those looking to improve. But climbing is certainly not the only thing you can do at Alpine. The gym also has a full health center with weights and cardio machines on a mezzanine that overlooks the rock climbing walls. There’s also a yoga studio that offers nearly 20 classes per week, all included with membership.
But if you’re going to a climbing gym, you should probably at least try rock climbing. For someone with little athleticism, poor coordination and a visceral fear of heights like me, the prospect of climbing a wall for fun seemed daunting at best. But Meek and Alpine general manager Tony Levy assured me that, yes, even I could catch the wall. All you need are comfortable clothes and closed shoes to get started.
So myself and bee photographer Andy Alfaro strapped into climbing harnesses and gave it a try. We used the easier and shorter (though still 25ft) walls of the adventure center, while the 10 year olds ping ponged on the nearby structures.
After some brief instructions on how to use the auto-belay (a safety device clipped into a waist harness that catches you in the event of a fall and then lowers you back down), it was time to climb.
And, you know what, we both made it to the top. Twice. Although it was difficult – especially halfway through when my fear of heights kicked in – it was doable even for someone like me whose pandemic fitness level can be described as a sensitive sack of potatoes that can type. After reaching the top, you can see how the tangible accomplishment of reaching the top with nothing but your hands and feet can become addictive.
Indoor climbing center open to all ages, skill levels
Alpine has been open since April for members, and now that the state’s COVID-19 restrictions have largely been lifted, it’s also open to day pass users who just want to try. So far, Meek said people have been coming from across the Valley and the Bay Area to tour the facility. They have seen people as young as 4 years old and as old as 70 coming to climb.
Memberships cost $89 per month or $979 per year, and there are discounts for students, teachers, seniors, first responders, active or ex-military and medical personnel. Day passes are $25 per person for ages 13 and up. Day passes to the Adventure Center are $21 for all ages. And a day pass plus a higher ropes class is $45 (which includes gear rental and a week’s membership) for ages 13 and up.
Meek opened the center with a staff of more than 20, including climbers from states as far apart as Florida and Colorado. And he hasn’t finished yet. The second phase of the Ripon Center will expand its site footprint by over 2 acres and add outdoor features and structures. And then there are future plans to open two additional alpine venues in the region. Meek said both projects should be announced by the end of this year.
For Manteca resident Tyler Born, who works as a Ceres firefighter, climbing at Alpine is a family affair. His wife and three children, ages 9, 11 and 13, are all members and come five to six times a week.
“I like the family atmosphere,” he says. “We get to climb together, get in shape and take on challenges together. We came back twice in one day.
Alpine Climbing Adventure Fitness, at 1450 Garrison Way in Ripon, is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information contact 209-509-4077 or visit climbatalpine.com.