SportRock - Alexandria
5308 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA
If you're new, welcome to the group! If you're not, welcome back!
Cost: If you tell the gym staff you are with the meetup group, they discount the day pass price to $14 (the normal cost is $18 for a day pass to use the gym). You will also need to rent climbing shoes and a harness ($6.50 for both) if you don't have your own gear. If you're renting shoes, I recommend you bring your own socks.
We'll be doing "top rope" climbing which means that the rope runs from the climber to the top of the climbing wall (that's why it's called TOP rope climbing) and then down to the belayer. The belayer takes up the slack as the climbed ascends, so if the climber loses their grip, the fall will usually only be a foot or two. After the climb, the climber and belayer switch places.
If you've never belayed before (or it has been a while), don't worry. The host (me) will tie you in and belay you or find one of the other AO or Meetup members to help out (if you haven't passed the Sportrock belay test, the gym won't allow you to belay or even tie yourself in). If you enjoy the climbing and want to come back on a regular basis, I strongly recommend that you take the SportRock "Basic Skills" class so that you can learn how to belay and return the favor. You can't take the belay test on the same day as the class, so just find the event host if you want to continue climbing after the class. Please remember that none of the organizers or meetup members are paid to belay, so remember to thank them.
The gym is a short walk from the Van Dorn metro station. It's next to a group of car repair shops. If the shops are closed - and they usually are at night - you can park in their spaces. There is also overflow parking available in the Carrier HVAC business next door on weeknights and weekends.
What to bring: This is *indoor* climbing, so dress for the gym, not the mountains. If you wear shorts, you may want them at least mid-thigh in length so the harness straps won't be on your bare skin (though it isn't really a problem if you wear short shorts). There are locker rooms to change in and cubbys to store your stuff (I've never had anything stolen). I recommend you also bring a water bottle, but the gym does have a water fountain and they sell drinks.
What to expect: After you've paid, signed the release form, and been given your rental gear, put anything you don't want to carry up the wall with you (except a drink bottle) in a locker/cubby/car and then look for the host. If you don't see me when you get there, ask the staff where the Meetup group is and ask for the event host by name (the host will change, so make sure that you remember who is listed on the meetup for that day).
One final note: If this is your first time climbing or you haven't climbed in a long while, your forearms will be really sore the next day since holding onto the wall uses muscles that you don't normally exercise. Don't worry: once you've been to the gym a few times, those muscles will get used to it and soon you won't even notice.