One of my favorite documentaries of all time is “Free Solo”. The film is about a free solo climber named Alex Honnold who climbed the face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without a rope or safety harness.
The movie made me wonder why I’m so scared of spiders when there are humans climbing the cliff walls without ropes. It also made me want to learn how to rock climb – a more moderate version, of course, possibly with a harness around me and a ground sheet under me.
So in 2019 I tried bouldering, which is basically horizontal climbing with shorter walls, no harnesses, and lots of soft groundsheets. I love being active, but the real reason I loved bouldering was for people watching. I love watching chalk-covered climbers dangle upside down like spider monkeys, holding their full body weight with only two fingers. So bouldering became sort of a weekly hobby for me for a few months, before COVID-19 shut down the world.
Now that the world is slowly and carefully beginning to reopen, climbing and bouldering facilities are finding ways to keep patrons safe while providing families with a creative way to be active indoors.
Where to “hang out”
Vertical Endeavors allows limited walk-ins as well as bookings for non-members, and offers a deal through the end of February that might inspire you to become a self-proclaimed rock climber.
The Minnesota-based climbing company has a bouldering facility in St. Paul, where you can put your indoor free solo to the test, as well as traditional rock climbing facilities in Bloomington, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth.
Admission for non-members to Vertical Endeavors is usually $20 to climb and up to $12 for rental, which includes shoes, harness, and belay device. But until the end of February, customers can purchase a 10-pass punch card (which can be shared with others) for $128 each, or $12.80 per day pass. These passes, which do not include rental, can be used at any Vertical Endeavors location.
Those who want to make a day of it can even sign up for a $10 yoga or fitness class at the Vertical Endeavors Twin Cities Bouldering site in St. Paul before or after their climb, though the price of the fitness class doesn’t cover not admission to climbing. costs.
Although walk-in tours are available on a limited basis at Vertical Endeavors, reservations are recommended, according to the organization’s website. Members and non-members have the option of making climbing reservations for a two-hour time slot.
The Minneapolis Bouldering Project, located near West River Road in Minneapolis, is a bouldering facility open to non-members by reservation during its off-peak hours, which include weekdays and weekends, and is a great option for beginners or those looking for a full day of climbing and fitness at an affordable price.
Admission to the Minneapolis Bouldering Project is $12 for students and $16 for adults, and shoe rentals, which normally cost $4, are free for beginners. The Minneapolis Bouldering Project also offers 10-pass punch cards at $130 for adults and $100 for students.
A Minneapolis Bouldering Project day pass gets you access to the entire gym for one day. That means you can boulder, take yoga and fitness classes, and use their physical training zones to make a whole day out of it. And if you work from home but need to get away from it all, you can also use their coworking facility.
Precautions against covid19
Climbing venues are doing everything they can to open safely under current COVID-19 guidelines, according to their websites.
“There will be increased cleaning, disinfection and decontamination of facilities and equipment by staff and customers. We ask climbers to wash or disinfect their hands before and after each climb or relay. We require guests using fitness facilities to wipe down all fitness equipment with disinfectant spray before and after use,” Vertical Endeavors said on its website.
The Minneapolis Bouldering Project said on its website that it will increase the frequency of deep cleaning of its surfaces, and will also implement temperature scans and take other necessary precautions to ensure the safety of its guests.