My friend and I visited the Stone Gardens rock climbing gym in Crossroads, Bellevue and it was a totally new activity for me. The gym offers tall climbing courses but I wanted to spend my time bouldering. I never really tried climbing without a harness and the cushioned mats beneath the bouldering courses seemed like a relatively safe option for physical exercise.
Even though I was and still am a complete novice, I was confident that climbing up some rocks was trivial. I really overestimated my ability though. The different routes up the rock walls were rated on a 0-5 numbering scale, my friend and I could only accomplish level one courses and on occasion a few level twos.
The facilities at the gym were minimal. They have some water fountains and a few bathrooms but there isn’t much else to help facilitate one’s climbing experience. Aside from roped climbing courses, bouldering, and a few free weights to use, there really isn’t much else at the gym.
While the facilities make special efforts to inform everyone that all climbing is dangerous, regardless of safety measures, the gym had a small course for children to climb around and play. It isn’t a daycare, though. Parents and guardians are still held responsible for the children though and need to watch them at all times.
It’s a little difficult to get to the gym for long commuters, though. While parking is free, it takes about 5-10 minutes to drive to the gym from from either SR 520 or I-90. Membership is expensive too and it cost me $26 for a single day pass to the gym so this can hardly be a regular activity for me.
Despite that, I was pleasantly surprised with the staff. They were courteous and helpful. If one doesn’t have any shoes, the gym provides rental footwear in any nearly any size needed.
The bouldering area isn’t convenient for people trying to get a quick work out. While the minimalistic facilities allow people to just show up and get started, people have to share the wall space with one another. The easy and difficult courses are right next to each other.
If someone is taking their time climbing, then everyone needs to wait until they safely descend before making an attempt. This isn’t ideal for anybody trying to fit a short workout in their busy schedule.
After completing a few climbing routes it quickly becomes apparent that chalk, for lessening friction, is useful for climbing. It protects the skin and lets the fingers slip into the crevices so it can support your body weight.
I made a few mistakes with over relying on a single arm and an ankle during a particular climb because of some difficult section my friend and I tried to solve. I didn’t get injured but stretching isn’t enough to stop the few days of soreness after bouldering.