How to find the group: This is an unhosted event. Until we find someone to regularly organize the Thursday events at Sportrock Alexandria, you'll have to a bit more work to find others. People usually assemble in front of the TV and glass display case outside the yoga studio at the scheduled start time. You'll have an easier time finding others if you're not late. Check the event page to see who else has signed up and take a good look at their photo. Post a comment describing what you'll be wearing that day. Don't be afraid to ask people if they're also looking for the group. BE THE GROUP! Take the initiative and make a sign. And if you'd like to be the organizer (which basically means you should show up on time and be easily identifiable), let Adam know.
If you've never climbed before or you haven't climbed in quite a while, we encourage you to go to a Tuesday event first. There will be an organizer who can belay you and/or make sure you haven't forgotten how to belay.
If you do know how to belay: Don't assume that everyone with a gym belay card will belay you safely and attentively. If you do not know the person, don't be afraid to ask a third person to backup belay. Start the evening as groups of three with a backup belayer for every belayer and rotate until everyone has had someone else backup belay them at least once. Then, if everyone is comfortable with everyone else's belaying technique, you can reform into groups of two.
Directions & Parking: 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.
Cost: Tell the gym staff you are with the climbing Meetup group and they will discount the day pass price to $14 (the normal cost for a day pass is $18). You will also need to rent climbing shoes and a harness ($10 for both) if you don't have your own gear. Once you are set with the front desk come find us. If you can’t find us, please ask one of the staff members to point out the Meetup group.
For those who are new to climbing: SportRock's "Basic Skills" class is the best way to learn the basics of climbing, namely how to "belay" another climber. Belaying refers to the technique(s) used to exert friction on the climbing rope so the climber doesn't fall very far. SportRock charges $25 for the class which includes gear rental and an all-day gym pass. The class starts at 7pm and usually takes 2 hours. Sign up on the SportRock website. Then, after your class is over, you can climb with us if you're not too tired. If you don't know how to belay and don't take the class, you are still welcome to come climb with us.
For experienced climbers that haven't climbed at Sportrock before: If you know how to belay but haven't been belay checked at a Sportrock gym, ask one of the staff members to test you when you first arrive. There's no charge for taking the belay test. If you pass, they'll give you a pink laminated belay card to wear on your harness so everyone knows you're OK to belay. If you fail, you can try again the next time you visit the gym.
About the group: The Meetup group consists of members of all skill levels and abilities. We are a friendly bunch of enthusiastic climbers who enjoy the physical and social aspects of climbing. When you are a part of the group you will always have a climbing partner as well as a fellow climber who might just know the special technique or trick to help you get past that difficult climbing problem.
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 recommend you also bring a water bottle, but the gym does have a water fountain and they sell drinks.
One final note: 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.