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Up the Wall at The Climbing Wall – Indoor Rock Climbing in the City

by Janet Jonus

Up the Wall at The Climbing Wall – Know before you Go

If your kids climb up everything they can find, you should check out indoor rock climbing at The Climbing Wall.

Indoor rock climbing requires mental and physical discipline. “It’s a puzzle for your brain and exercise for your muscles, “explains Kerry, the manager of The Climbing Wall. “Climbing builds strength, coordination, balance, and concentration.”

The Climbing Wall is an indoor climbing center at The Factory in Pittsburgh that has over 14,000 square feet of climbing walls for all experience levels. Kids as young as six can learn to climb at The Climbing Wall. They can learn to boulder or to top rope though most kids prefer top roping as you get to harness up and climb higher.

Bouldering is climbing but closer to the ground. There are no harnesses or special equipment to boulder. The Climbing Wall has a large and popular bouldering area. There are climbs for all experience levels. The beauty of bouldering is you do not have to go high to be challenged. Every wall as numerous marked routes with different challenge levels. Kids can stay low to the ground or climb to the top and still learn. Some of the walls are slanted to make the climb easier but most are vertical or over-hanging creating difficult problems to solve.

“Bouldering is about problem-solving,” says Kerry. “It is about making your own way, overcoming obstacles, challenging yourself.”

The entire bouldering area is built on a spring floor. There are numerous mats to cushion falls. Safety is a priority. Every new climber must go through orientation, no matter their skill level. There are rules that must be followed by every climber to maintain a safe climbing environment. Parents must supervise their children under the age of twelve.

Top Roping involves putting on a harness and being tied into a rope system. The rope holds up the climber if they fall. Top roping allows the climber to go up much higher than bouldering. The belayer, the person who is holding the rope, keeps tension on the rope. The climber still has to climb under their own power but they are caught if they fall. All of the belayers at The Climbing Wall have been trained and certified. Kids love top roping because they can climb really high. Top roping equipment can be rented. All climbers must complete orientation training before climbing.

“Every wall here is designed to be climbed by all levels, “ Kerry says.

The Climbing Wall has two youth programs. Kids Climb is on Wednesdays and Fridays from 500PM – 700PM. Kids 6-15 years old can top rope under the direction of The Climbing Wall staff. Kids climb in a safe environment while learning from The Climbing Wall staff. Harnesses and helmets are provided. Reservations are not required. Cost is $12.00 per session. Climbing shoes can be rented for $3.00.

The Climbing Wall’s Youth Climbing Program is a ten-week program that teaches basic and intermediate climbing skills in a class setting. Kids 6-15 can participate. Classes are on Mondays from 500PM – 630PM. The ten-week session costs $150.00. A sibling can take the same class for $120 per ten-week session. All equipment is provided. There three sessions each year -one in the fall, one in the winter, and one in the spring. There is also a summer camp from June through August. There are only eight slots per session and pre-registration is required.

Information about The Climbing Wall’s youth programs can be found here: https://www.theclimbingwall.net/youth/

Kids can boulder any time the bouldering area is open. The minimum age is six years old. Parents must stay with children between the ages of 6-12. Teens can boulder without parental supervision. The cost is $12.00 for the first session and $10 for every subsequent session. Teens 16+ pay $12.00 per session. The bouldering area is open Monday from 1100AM-1100PM, Tuesday from 300PM – 1100PM, Wednesday from 700AM – 1100PM, Thursday from 300PM – 1100PM, Friday from 1100AM – 1100PM, and Saturdays and Sundays from 1000AM – 600PM.

The Top Roping area is open Mondays through Fridays from 500PM – 1030PM and Saturdays and Sundays from 1200PM – 530PM. The only times there is a staff member to belay is during Kids Climb. Kids are welcome any time the Top Roping area is open but they must provide their own The Climbing Wall certified belayer. Anyone 16+ can take the course for belay certification. It costs $12.00 per session for top roping. Harnesses and belay devices can be rented for $2.00 each.

Parents have to sign a waiver before their kids can climb and everyone has to take the safety orientation. The Climbing Wall offers multi-day passes and memberships. Pricing information can be found here: https://www.theclimbingwall.net/pricing/ .The Climbing Wall also has specials found here: https://www.theclimbingwall.net/specials/

What does your child need to get started in climbing? “Comfortable clothing that you can easily move around in and closed-toe shoes,” says Kerry. Harnesses and belay devices can be rented for top roping ($2.00 each per session, free during the Kids Climb). Helmets are provided for free. Climbing shoes can be rented but any athletic shoe is acceptable for the beginner.

“Climbing is for everyone,” Kerry says. It is an individual sport but there is a strong sense of community. “The climbing community is unique because everyone wants to see each other succeed.”

If your child takes to climbing, there is no end to where they can go. “There are youth climbing competitions in the US and around the world,” says Kerry. “It is all up to the child. All you need is a sense of adventure.”

The Climbing Wall is located at located at 7501 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15208. It is located next to the East End Food Co-op. There is free parking available but the lot can get crowded. Port Authority buses 67, 69 Trafford, and 71C Point Breeze stop within a block of The Climbing Wall. The phone number is 412-247-7334. The website: https://www.theclimbingwall.net/