If you've never climbed before, YES, it's OK to join us. (That's the #1 question I get asked, so I thought I'd get it out of the way first.)
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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 (http://www.sportrock.com/index.php?view=courseevents&id=4%3Abasic-skills&option=com_ksevents&Itemid=35). 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. We're happy to belay you at your first one or two events.
For experienced climbers: 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.