// BOULDERING, CLIMBING & SUCH
I currently boulder at the V3+ level as a USA Climbing Competitor Member (which is code for “I'm not that competitive.”) My finger strength and climbing fitness has fortunately grown incrementally with each bouldering wall I encounter at home and when on the road (added bonus being that climbing shoes are pretty easy to bring along during my frequent travels).
Besides personally benefitting from the much needed physical conditioning that climbing provides, indoor bouldering continues to mesmerize me each time I stare up at a new wall of problems, route tape flocking in a hundred different colors, flying up the side of a rock that doesn't know it's not a rock.
// New Orleans Boulder Lounge (New Orleans)
While traveling in New Orleans for a conference, I was lucky to find the New Orleans Boulder Lounge where I signed up for a class to refine my vertical/ slab climbing technique. Built out of what appears to be a former general store, the gym is a neat little spot that has fostered a friendly and supportive climbing community in this part of the city.
// FIRST MOON BOARD (Fremont, California)
Found my first Moon Board experience at The Peak in Fremont, California, a standardized system board with bluetooth linked LED lights that form crowdsourced boulder problems. Pretty easy to set up — download the Moon Board app, be sure the gym’s board is switched on (that turned out to be the first problem I had to solve :) and you’re off. The holds on the app correspond to the holds that light up on the board.
// BERKELEY IRON WORKS (Berkeley, California)
When I found myself commuting almost daily to Oakland for much of the Fall of 2018, I lucked out in discovering Berkeley Iron Works nearby. Another cool gym created by local climbing juggernaut Touchstone Climbing, it served as a place of self reflection as much as it did competitive practice and I was grateful to have had it to explore.
// ADVENTURE ROCK (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
// FIRST ASCENT UPTOWN (Chicago, Illinois)
// CLIMBING THE CASTLE (London, England)
About a 30 minute tube ride outside Central London is a brick castle that was originally built as a Victorian era water pumping station. Today, it's an immersive indoor climbing center.
Preserving the site's history while transforming its purpose, The Castle Climbing Center exists as one of the coolest bouldering and indoor rope climbing facilities ever. When I visited in August 2018, it was a drizzly, gloomy day outside so spending a couple of hours numbing my forearms made for a great way to spend a Friday night in London.
A pro shop rents equipment, shoes, chalk and has clothing and gear for sale. Coin operated lockers let you stow your duffel bag while you're climbing. Changing/shower areas let you spruce up after your session. There's an onsite cafe, onsite garden, and a few outdoor boulders in the shadow of the castle.
// NEVADA CLIMBING CENTER
While in town for the National Society of Professional Engineers conference in July 2018, I got to visit the Nevada Climbing Center. Hidden in an industrial park on the Las Vegas outskirts, it's a welcoming indoor climbing gym with auto-belay and top roping fun galore. The bouldering feature is the gravitational center of the room and crafted for fun and serious problems alike.
// MOST CREATIVE UPCYCLING OF A CRASH PAD
Sighted in the completely refurbished canteen of the Yosemite Lodge (something by the way that just a few years ago had that homey, no nonsense summer camp feel to it and now feels like the place where hipsters go to get kale smoothies---not that I'm complaining about the chic new digs and tasty pancakes).
// PAYING HOMAGE TO CAMP 4
While in Yosemite during early 2015, I got the chance to stop by the legendary Camp 4, where modern day rock climbing got its start. While I see rock climbing more as a way for me to cross-train for my caving adventures (given my abilities, competitively rock climbing just ain't happening for me). I really admired the crowds that were in Camp 4 the afternoon I stopped in. Still high on the announcement of the successful free climb of El Cap just days before, there was not a boulder left un-bouldered wherever I looked and hikers everywhere were hauling rope packs up the trails or spreading out crash pads underneath boulders. Lots of footsteps to follow, lots of footsteps being followed.
// DESPERATELY SEEKING FOREARMS