A Few Helpful Things to Know While You're Here…

If you're just in the gym to have fun and get a feel for climbing, you're more than welcome to enjoy the walls as you please, so long as you're respecting the basic safety rules related to the walls.

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Let's Learn the Basics of Indoor Rock Climbing!

"What do all the colors mean? Which is the easiest/hardest color?"

Actually, the color of the holds don't tell you anything about easy vs difficult – all the holds of the same (or really similar) color make up a unique path along the wall that your hands and feet would stick to – ignoring every other color – if you want to go by the rules of the sport.

Know the Lingo:

In Sport Climbing, a particular climbing path along our taller walls is called a route.

In Bouldering, generally done on smaller structures like our Boulder Island or in our Cave, a path is called a problem – as in figure it out.

Just having fun? Using all of the holds, regardless of color, is what we call Rainbowing.

"So, how do I tell what's easy vs. what's difficult?"

You'll notice tags along the walls near the start holds of each route or problem.

Grade Tags in Sport Climbing

(Roped Walls and Auto-Belays)

In Sport Climbing, the Yosemite Decimal System is used to tell you how difficult or easy something is. Everything is a "five point something." Look for the white plastic tag next to the route you want to climb to read its grade!


A "five-seven" is among the easiest routes we set here.


A "five-nine" is considered the beginning of the Intermediate Level


A "five-twelve-A" is considered the start of the Advanced Level

There is often such a wide gap in the skills and strengths necessary to move from a double digit grade (like 5.10) to the next that it's necessary to divide them by an additional letter (a-d) level.

So, in terms of increasing difficulty:

5.10 a➡ 5.10b ➡ 5.10c ➡ 5.10d ➡ 5.11a

Did you know? Currently, the hardest route grade set outdoors is a 5.15d!

Grade Tags in Bouldering

(The Boulder Island, Cave, and Temporarily Repurposed Walls Set for Boulder Problems )

We use Color Spectrum Grading with six ranges of difficulty, with corresponding "V" grades that will be familiar to visiting climbers with more experience. Look for the colored plastic card-shaped tag near the start of the problem. The order – from easiest to hardest is:

V0 (Easiest)

Green Card by Start Holds


Yellow Card by Start Holds


Yellow Card by Start Holds


Red Card by Start Holds


Orange Card by Start Holds

V9+ (Hardest)

Black Card by Start Holds

The color of the Boulder Problem (the handholds, footholds, and tape) will match a piece of tape that's on the plastic grading tag!

The Start and End Holds of a Route or Problem

The Start and End Holds of a Route or Problem are indicated with matching stripes of tape. Sometimes, a route/problem begins with two hands on the same hold and other times there will be a hold for each of your hands. The number of tape stripes indicates how many hands should be on that hold when you start the route.

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Starting and Finishing a Route/Problem Properly

Begin by holding ONLY the single or pair of holds which are indicated (with tape) as the START HOLDS of your route/problem. You must then have BOTH feet off the ground before you may reach for any other hold and proceed climbing. A route/problem is considered successfully completed when both hands have reached the END HOLDS at the top of the wall (which are also marked with tape).

Example of a False Start: Grabbing a hold other than the start hold (or two start holds in the case of this problem) before your feet are both off the ground.

A Proper Start: You may only hold the Start Holds (the two red holds Tim is holding each have a single piece of tape) – you must then get both feet off the ground before reaching for anything else.

Finish your route by holding on to the END HOLDS with BOTH hands. If Bouldering, down climbing is recommended, but if you must jump down, please look around for people beneath you.

Tips for Your First Time on the Wall

Rock climbing isn't as straightforward as, say, ascending a ladder, so here are a couple of pointers to help you!

• Keep your fingers together – they're stronger that way rather than opened and apart.

• Only step on footholds with the very tip of the toebox of your climbing shoes. This will allow you to turn your hips or tiptoe to reach as necessary.

• Use your legs to push you up the wall, more than you use your arms to pull you up the wall. Think: "load up a squat, do a slam dunk, load up a squat, do a slam dunk."

• Keep your hips into the wall – the farther your hips are from the wall, the more force you'll feel against your fingers as your hips and butt pull you off the wall!

• Watch the regulars around you as they climb to get an idea of climbing movement!

Have a great time! If you'd like to learn more about membership, owning your own gear, our youth programs, or how you can host your next birthday party, team building outing, or other group event with us, ask at the Front Desk or visit the homepage of our website!

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