In Minnesota, we don’t have mountains. We have rock to climb, but it’s sparse and requires a bit of planning. We have lots of lakes, great people, cross-country skiing, and now we have two climbing gyms in the Twin Cities.
The new gym in Minneapolis opened up quietly this week, and I was lucky to be one of the first members of the public to climb there on Thursday. Only part of the gym was open, some of the bouldering and top-rope areas were still being finished, but I got a good sense of what it will be like to climb there.
The building itself is in an old ice-house that dates back to the turn of last century. The walls are tall (some are 60-65 feet), and after climbing the 35 ft walls in St Paul for so long, the extra height was noticeable. There is an art wall with some crack climbing and natural features which is very cool. A few bouldering areas are sprinkled around the gym as well, some right across from other climbing areas, which will be a great way to get a quick warm-up in.
Standing out above all of the other features of the gym are the lead walls. There is a lot of wall space dedicated to lead routes, which I think is fantastic. The gem of the gym is the ‘wave’ wall. This wall is very tall, and is formed in an S-shape which puts the climber 15 feet (estimate) out from the base of the climb at the top. The curve is gradual, the falls are clean, and it’s a great pleasure to climb. I did some top-rope routes to warm up, but once I started leading I didn’t want to stop. It was fantastic.
The location of the Minneapolis gym is right in the heart of the city. Only a few blocks from the midtown greenway, it is easily accessible by bike and public transit. Since parking will be a definite challenge, biking or bussing is going to be the way to go. The gym is within walking distance of many great restaurants, delis, and bars, so it will be easy to make a day/night of it with friends.
It’ll be great to have two gyms to choose from now, and hopefully the crowds will spread out between the two as well. I’m excited to have more climbing in the Twin Cities. What we lack in mountains we have in plastic.