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Saturday, July 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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They’re Climbing The Walls Indoor Rock Climbing Gaining In Popularity

From Staff And Wire Reports

For tens of thousands of people, indoor rock-climbing is a regular workout to be fit, have fun and dump stress. No longer just a supplement to outdoor climbing or an extreme sport solely for radical thrill-seekers, indoor climbing has evolved into an increasingly mainstream sport in and of itself.

In 1996, 71 percent of nearly 50,000 Climbing Magazine readers said they were participating in indoor climbing, and commercial climbing gyms have grown from 89 in 1994 to more than 300 in 1997, according to reports from the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.

Nearly one-third of all climbers climb only indoors, estimated Wayne Campbell, president of Radwall, a company that builds climbing walls and free-standing structures.

Wild Walls, the only serious climbing gym in Spokane, which opened in April of 1995, has shown steady growth, said manager Tom Rust.

“Out of every class we teach, we have people who come back and continue (regularly) with it,” he said, adding “and the others still climb occasionally.

“We’ve had a steady increase in people taking classes,” he added. The number of people climbing “probably has doubled from what it was last year at this time.”

Technology is finding ways to accommodate climbers who have money, but not enough vertical room in their house or office. Exercise-machine companies are producing rolling rock walls, which are like self-powered or electronically controlled treadmills crossbred with climbing walls. The wall goes down as you climb up. Treadwall is self-powered and Rock-n-Roll is electronically controlled.

Is the nearest rock too far to drive to during the week? No problem. Let’s put one in the living room. People have spent $40,000 to put them in their living rooms.

Stores such as REI and Mountain Gear, which have climbing walls on-premises, sell components for building your own small rock wall for do-it-yourselfers.

In the NBC sitcom “Suddenly Susan,” Judd Nelson plays a magazine editor who loves rock-climbing so much he has his own wall behind his office desk, as an occasional tension-buster.

TV fiction aside, the stress-relieving aspect of rock-climbing is true. You have to concentrate on balancing and planning where to put your hands and feet and move your body, so you can’t be thinking about other things.

There’s no doubt you get a good total body muscle workout.

Purists argue that although indoor climbing can enhance outdoor climbing skills, a vast difference exists between the two. And they’re not talking about blue skies.

Indoor climbing gym routes are color coded, so you don’t have to study the rock for holds. Outside, climbers must learn to read the rock.

Aside from convenience, indoor climbing has one enormous advantage, gym owners say: reduced danger.

Climbing-gym owners and managers say climbing inside is far safer than outdoors. Equipment failure is almost nonexistent. All forms of climbing in indoor gyms are designed so the distance you fall is relatively short and manageable.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. CLIMBING AROUND Some places in and around Spokane you can find indoor climbing walls: Wild Walls, Eastern Washington University, Washington State, University of Idaho, Cheney Middle School, Pasadena Elementary School, St. George’s, Mountain Gear, REI.

2. INDOOR CLIMBING FUN FOR BEGINNERS, EXPERTS From staff and wire reports Some common questions about indoor climbing: How much does it cost? At Wild Walls, day passes are $10. Cost-saving monthly, yearly, family memberships available as well. Group rates available. Rates include a 2-hour lesson and equipment and depend on group numbers. Info: (509) 455-9596. Do I need to buy equipment? Not if you’re a beginner. Most indoor climbing gyms rent shoes, harnesses and carabiners (metal clips to which ropes are attached). If you decide to climb regularly, it’s best to get your own gear. Expect to pay at least $100 for a good pair of climbing shoes. Harnesses start at $30. Carabiners cost $5-$22. Locking carabiners are more expensive. Bags to carry chalk to keep your hands dry cost less than $20. Do I need to take climbing lessons? Yes, if you’ve never tried it. You need to learn to climb safely. What do I wear? Comfortable, casual clothes that don’t restrict movement or chafe.

Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. CLIMBING AROUND Some places in and around Spokane you can find indoor climbing walls: Wild Walls, Eastern Washington University, Washington State, University of Idaho, Cheney Middle School, Pasadena Elementary School, St. George’s, Mountain Gear, REI.

2. INDOOR CLIMBING FUN FOR BEGINNERS, EXPERTS From staff and wire reports Some common questions about indoor climbing: How much does it cost? At Wild Walls, day passes are $10. Cost-saving monthly, yearly, family memberships available as well. Group rates available. Rates include a 2-hour lesson and equipment and depend on group numbers. Info: (509) 455-9596. Do I need to buy equipment? Not if you’re a beginner. Most indoor climbing gyms rent shoes, harnesses and carabiners (metal clips to which ropes are attached). If you decide to climb regularly, it’s best to get your own gear. Expect to pay at least $100 for a good pair of climbing shoes. Harnesses start at $30. Carabiners cost $5-$22. Locking carabiners are more expensive. Bags to carry chalk to keep your hands dry cost less than $20. Do I need to take climbing lessons? Yes, if you’ve never tried it. You need to learn to climb safely. What do I wear? Comfortable, casual clothes that don’t restrict movement or chafe.

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