Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New York Climbing Gyms

New York City is one of the largest cities on this egg shaped rock we call earth.
It is home to 8.2 million people, 20,000 street venders, 12,700 yellow taxi's, 48 white castles and 5 climbing gyms in or nearby!

Whether you're a first timer or a veteran climber, there's a gym in New York (or close by) to suite your needs. Below is a map of all the current and upcoming climbing walls in and around the city so that no matter where you're staying, you can get your climbing fix!

The gyms covered here are: 
Brooklyn Boulders, Chelsea Piers, The Cliffs, MPHC, Reebok and The Rock Club.

1. Brooklyn Boulders
Located within walking distance of the Union St metro station and highly accommodating for cyclists with its large bike rack facility. Brooklyn Boulders is a great wall for locals and commuters alike. It is one of the largest climbing centres on the east coast with over 22,000 sq feet of climbing!

There is a real community atmosphere here and there are always plenty of people willing to help you solve problems you may be struggling with. The instructors here are qualified, experienced climbers and always happy to answer your questions whether its how to become a climber or how to push your limits.

Top ropes
Auto belays
Lead wall with arch and staligtite
Tons of bouldering
Multiple styles of campus board
Systems board
Slack lining

The facility really speaks for itself. It offers lessons for everyone of all abilities and at a reasonable price. A standard day pass here will set you back $20 without gear hire which is the average cost here in New York. Instruction is more and needs to be booked. The only down side to here is that it can get pretty crowded during peak times which is generally any day after 4pm.

Tel: (347) 834-9066

2. Chelsea Piers
Out on the west side of Manhattan, Chelsea Piers is one of the most difficult walls to commute to and one of the more expensive one too. However, It has a very impressive 46' high by 100' wide main wall, the 14' high by 70' wide bouldering wall and the adjacent 16' high by 18' wide bouldering cave which combined offer over 11,000 square feet of sculpted, three-dimensional climbing surface that will challenge novice and expert climbers alike. In addition, a radically designed, overhanging competition roof provides experienced sport climbers with the ultimate challenge and stamina fest!


Huge lead wall with overhang
Bouldering wall
Bouldering cave

The facilities are very impressive and if you're already a climber and are serious about improving then this is a place that you must visit! It is much more expensive here than other facilities around New York and is better suited to those who have plenty of extra cash and climbing experience. A day pass here will set you back $50!

Tel:  (212) 336-6083


3. The Cliffs Long Island City 
Opening early Spring 2013, this is set to be one of the biggest climbing facilities in the entire US! It will be easily accessible by public transport, car and bike with its roadside parking and easy bicycle store. Combined with its huge 30,000 sq feet of climbing, multi-gym, fitness bathrooms (showers) and a retail store. This could be New York's one stop shop for climbers. 

Let's see what happens!

Massive top out bouldering
Crack climbing
60 ft lead wall with a 35 ft overhang
Cutting edge new wall designed by Walltopia
Fitness area including bathrooms and showers
Retail store

It's currently still under construction but their will be a review as soon as i get a glimpse at the new place.

Tel: (914) 328-ROCK

4. Manhattan Plaza Health Club 
A community driven climbing wall in the heart of the city. It is the smallest climbing facility in the city but what it lacks in size it makes up for with goings on. There are always creative and fun events happening here from glow stick climbing to film festivals. This is a great place to take beginner lessons if you prefer not having a large number of people watching you as its never too crowded.

Overhanging lead wall
Short top ropes
Small bouldering wall
Campus board and fingerboard

Small and friendly but could invest in some new climbing holds to make climbing a little more enjoyable. A standard day pass will set you back $20 which is the average rate in the city and overall its a nice place to climb!

Tel: (212) 563-7001

5. Reebok Sports Gym
Sports club is not the right word to describe this facility. It's more of a country club and it's members only! I never actually got to go here as there is no day pass. To visit you must go with another member and pay a $35 entrance fee to climb. There are no lessons here and a yearly pass is upwards of $2,200!

40 ft by 18 ft wall with 4 lines

Not worth the effort unless you really have money to burn and even then you could spend the same money going to any of the other gyms and getting a better facility and experience.

Tel: (212) 355-5100

The Rock Club

6. The Rock Club

The Rock Club is the dubbed "New York area’s premier indoor climbing center". featuring a 40 foot high main wall with terrain ranging from easy to radically extreme. With around 80 climbing stations with over 200 individual routes.
Whatever your climbing interest, ability or age, you'll enjoy your time at The Rock Club. The walls were designed, engineered and built by RockWerx, the leader in indoor climbing walls and the staff are pros with a passion for climbing and commitment to customer service. Their enthusiasm will rub off on you!

Boulder wall, cave and VOLCANO
Multiple overhangs, slabs, dihedrals, arches and more angles than Mt. Rushmore
Full cardio training area
Beginner and group area
Function rooms
Childrens Nursery

Full retail store

A truly incredible climbing gym with staff that care a lot about the sport. It has everything you could possibly need to become a climber and improve. A day pass is just $15 to boulder which is by far the best price of any gym! The only downside would be travelling from the city as it would take some time and be difficult without a car. If you can go, do it!

Tel: (914) 633-ROCK

All this information and more can also be found in the upcoming climbing book NYC Bouldering Guide.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NYC: New York Climbing

The bouldering guide is storming along now and I decided that while I'm waiting for the graphics nerds to work there magic I'd get out with some friends to crush some problems!

We (Lorenzo and I) started at the WEST SIDE outcrops on 103rd and Central Park West. We climbed loads of problems upto V7 including a great layback line that was an absolute gem. we scoped out the highball lines that go all the way to 106th but decided as it had started raining we should retreat to the Hepatitis Cave with Ivan and Mike. Now I bet your your thinking why anyone would you want to hangout at a cave named Hepatitis?

Take a look!

This cave is home to a Central Park classic named YoYo Jimminy V11, first climbed by Brian Kim. Under the cave can admittedly be a little gross at times which is how it gets its name, but what it lacks in cleanliness it makes up in quality. The routes here can be climbed in any conditions and there is a ongoing project to the left of YoYo which is rumoured to be around the grade of V13!

While hiding away from the rain we worked this new problem for a LOOOONNNNGGGGG time, slowly unfolding its mystery and complexity. After probably 4 hours of work we had made much progress but didn't manage to send it. Feeling peckish, we decided to leave for the day but not before I wrote a note to the homeless man that lives under the rock explaining that I'd like him to be part of  of a climbing film about NYC Bouldering featuring some top climbers in the world. I left contact details and a pad and pen explaining that if he can't contact me by electronic means I'd be back in 2 days to pick up a note.

Will I get a reply? We'll have to wait and see!

This week on the NYC Bouldering Guide Facebook were doing a competition with the chance to win a awesome PUDGE Package featuring coffee, pucker, shirt and much more!  To enter simply LIKE our Facebook group and then send us a message containing 5 CORRECT answers to the photo questions.

I'll be posting sneak peeks of the book soon so everyone can get an idea of how it's going to look!



Friday, July 20, 2012

NYC Bouldering Guide

New York City is probably one of the last places you would ever imagine going rock climbing, and rightly so. It's doesn't have any mountains, hills or cliffs and is best known for its vast expanses of streets and sky scrapers.

So you may have guessed from the title of this blog that although the city lacks any large rock faces, it is home to a variety of fantastic schist boulders and rocky outcrops. Hidden within the concrete jungle, amongst the the many parks and green spaces, lay one of New York's best kept secrets as far as climbing is concerned!

These massive boulders are home to some very strong climbers such as Ivan Greene and Brian Kim who have made V11 and V12 first ascents across the park. Climbing in the city also has a rich history dating back to the 1960's and possible earlier. It is thought that the great George Mallory may have climbed the rock at central park during his visit in the earl 1920's. 

However, everything you have just read is barely documented and could be fact or fiction. They are stories and snippets of information that i have gathered from the people I've met while living here in NY. I decided that because finding information on climbing in the city was so difficult to come by and in high demand, (go down to rat rock any day and ask if anyone knows of all the routes!) I would take the time to put everyone's knowledge into a book so that everyone can enjoy the climbing history that is written in the rock.

So with the help of some great people I have began to make what will be a complete guide to NYC Bouldering. It will be published by Sharp End Books and I will be donating a percentage of the books revenue to the Access Fund who help keep our climbing areas open. 

The book is still around a year away from completion and here is a sneak peak of what you can expect!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Wild Camping El Chorro


From talking to the locals and asking about a bit we found that there were several unofficial wild camp spots in the woods just above the official camp site but they were often moved on by the Guardia Civil but if you kept a low profile and kept away from the crowds you can avoid this. During our stay we never had any trouble with either the Guardia Civil or other campers and had a fantastic stay.

What you need for camping in El Chorro:

  1. Warm sleeping bag -5 degrees comfort if you plan to camp in winter
  2.  A cheap tent that is easy to erect and take down should you be moved on
  3.  Tent games – It gets cold and dark by 7pm and so having games to play like bananagrams or cards helps pass the time
  4.  Slack line (optional) – We took a slack line and spent nearly every evening on this which was great fun and a great way of getting to know other campers

There are several campsites to choose from and which one you choose will be best decided by how sociable you want to be and how much space is available. Some of these campsite can get very crowded in the winter season. We went out climbing one day and left our tent in the central campsite with no one around. When we returned there were close to 15 tents around us tightly packed in and washing drying on every tree branch.

Potential Camp sites:

This is a basic map of the area below Fontales. The 3 campsites mentioned are of reasonable size and have relatively flat groud compared to the surrounding area. Just after the path which leads to the campsites there is a “Parc Nacional” sign and a wooden storage box opposite which makes finding the right path easier. The campsites are not visable from the road which makes them ideal places to stay but slightly difficult to find the first time searching.

Camp 1: Europa Zone
The left hand campsite was the most popular with one. It's well hidden from the road and has the flatest ground as well as make shift log benches and fire pits but also the one that was reportedly moved on by the gaurdia civil now and again.

Camp 2: Camp Cuatro
Hidden away from the road like camp 1, its location offers some good flat areas and plenty of space with easy access to the surrounding crags. It's only downfall is that it has a path that runs right through the middle of it that is used now and again by people descending from the crags. It is the quietest of the 3 camps and also has stone built fire pits.

Camp 3: Camp Chesht
Situated near to a car park, this is the most exposed of the 3 campsites but also one with a large area of flat ground, many fire pits and plenty of area to place multiple tents. Its within a 30 second walk of camp 2 which is handy if its a busy season.

A few other things to remember when wild camping is that the water from taps and water springs which you see about is either undrinkable or tastes horrible! There is a local super market in town in which you can buy large quantities of water which seems the best idea and then keep it in your tent.

There are several fruit tree's about the village which drop nectarines and Lemons which can be used with cooking or drinks to add some flavour. This is especially nice if your really on a budget and wants something different from plain pasta and water to get by!

If you feel like splashing out a few euros the Olive Branch guest house near Encantadas offers a shower and tea service for 3 euros a person which can give some rest bite to your aching and smelling body after many days in the sun.

Hitch hiking to Alora the local town i have been told is not too difficult. Food and beer is much cheaper there and offers other services such as internet cafes and a post office (Correos) to keep in touch with loved ones.

Please remember wild camping in El Chorro is illegal and this is purely for reference should you choose to enjoy breaking the law :)

Road trip El Chorro

Road Trip: Camping and Climbing in El Chorro

Since I last blogged we’ve been out on adventures and driven the entire North to South of Spain in search of friends and adventure!

Our original plan was to drive south to Madrid and camp at one of the many crags that surround its West side. This however was not to be. Upon arriving in Madrid it was clear that it wasn’t the best place to be camping in February as the temperature was around -6 degrees and being outside for more than 5 minutes was unbearable even wearing multiple layers of thermals and a down jacket.

It was late in the night and we had already been driving for around 6 hours but we decided the best decision would be to continue driving south to El Chorro were we were sure the temperatures where higher and the climbing was sunny

For anyone thinking of driving through Spain the views are pleasant and the roads are quiet and easy to drive with plenty of places to stop on the way in the day and night.

We drove south for another 5 hours passing quickly and quietly through the Spanish countryside. We eventually arrive in Antequarra, a small town North East of El Chorro and became quite lost. The European road map we had was rubbish for negotiating the small and badly marked roads that lead to the gorge where we planned to stay and so we stopped to ask directions at a petrol station.

We walked in to find a lady around 5’10 making coffee and doing a general tidy up. In my bet Spanglish i asked which way it was to the gorge. I was surprised when she replied to me in perfect English, telling me that her husband was English and that we were very close. Two police officers then walked in and collaboratively between the three of them and the police radio we got some directions which took us to Campillos and then south.

We followed these directions but again got hopelessly lost. We stopped again for directions and eventually pieced together where we were and made our destination around 7am.
We couldn’t find a camping spot on the hillside and so decided for now we should sleep in the car. It was an uncomfortable night’s sleep in a packed out Fiesta with seats that would barely recline and a cramped foot well.

The next day we woke and drove down to the Olive Branch. This was the premier place to stay in El Chorro and get information on all the latest routes, access to remote crags and of course PARTY! My mates from Leicester were staying here and later in the week we expected our friends from Essex to arrive. I parked up and had a mooch about the Olive Branch but couldn’t see anyone. Just as i was about to leave I heard the familiar voice of one of my best mates Henry who had seen me searching about through the dining room window.

Everyone came out and we hugged and had a catch up and began planning the logistics of our stay and what routes we wanted to do. Now although our friends were staying at the olive Branch, Me and Joe had very little money and could barely afford the drive there and back let alone accommodation.


We spent a week here enjoying the sun and having a great time but had to return home after just 9 days but with great memories. Some of my favourite are the Camino Del Ray with the guys from Essex which we ambushed them on and on-sighting 7b which is always a nice feeling! 

Next blog will be about a little known climbing area called La Marea which is a new a hidden climbing area 20km south of Infiesto in Northern Spain.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In search of new crags!

The past couple of weeks have been jam packed with friendly banter, new places and mount Urrielu.

It seems that northern Spain is much like Scotland for weather as there tend to be a constant cloud that hovers in the valley below us creating a sea of white which slowly flows east towards the Picos. We have had much rain here and it always seems to bee wet!

Northern spain however has much to offer for climbers, walkers and mountaineers. Locally there is a huge abundance of un touched limestone that is as much as 50m high and of good quality but no bolts, topos or climbers to be found any where near.

Today we're in Arriondas enjoying the coffee at a local coffee shop we have been to before called Kelsey's. It has incredible Pichentos and good coffee. Our purpose of today is 1. let everyone know were alive and well and 2. to explore some of these un-touched crags with the idea of putting up new hard routes on the untouched overhangs nearby which would be a welcome addition for local climbers that do not know how to bolt new routes but want to learn.

I have discovered much of the climbing areas recently by joining the Montana Grupo Infiesto which are a great bunch of friendly people with endless enthusiasm for climbing and big goals. They are developing there own bouldering wall in the hut which in in the local town (SCORE!) and its becoming a huge 45 degree board with endless traverses and possibilities. I plan to spend as much of my time as possible here once its finished which should be by the end of the weekend (en shallah!)

Last weekend we attempted to climb Ureilu but had to return due to conditions but we did get a great feel for the area and get our bearings which means a lot in this area where maps are hard to come by. We also got great views of Naranjo Des Bulnes which i plan to climb when the temperatures rise around the end of march.

We have also discovered a new huge climbing wall in Arriondas which is incredible! fully horizontal overhang and routes starting at 6c going to 8a+.

I have a few photos to keep you guys updated and manana i will book flights to El Chorro to see all my friends for a few weeks climbing.

Hasta Luego!

And a picture for Lauri and Chelsea!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

First Week in Espanya

Hola! como estas?

We have arrived in the beautiful village of Pallena, in Asturias, Spain. Having driven from Canvey Island, Essex all the way to Portsmouth we took a 20 hour ferry across to Santander. We had a brilliant room that the dog could join us in and our whole corridor had people with dogs which meant it was a little mental when everyone takes there dog out to the loo late at night. Dylan (the dog) seemed confused that it was OK to take a leak on the floor inside/outside but i think he enjoyed the journey sitting in the cabin window looking out to sea for most of it.

Once we landed in Spain we head West to Oviedo. We were not too sure where we were going but knew roughly that it was located near some where that began with a B, and there was a pine tree. We had earlier in the trip saved a map on a tablet but it didn't load when we tried it and the map on my computer was useless as it wouldn't turn on.

We arrived at a small village having remembered something else about a hard turn and a track that "wasn't as bad as it looked". We saw one track that looked rather suspect and decided that it must be the track and head down and lucky for us it was as we would never have been able to reverse it!

We've been working hard building a beautiful Kabanya and don't really know how long we will be here but are enjoying it all the same. Our windows look out over huge mountain ranges as far as the Pyrenees on a clear day and also bring incredible sun rises and sunsets. I could easily stay here forever!(Gaz)

We have been up to La Traverse and climbed and started to master the Slack line for the past two days which has been an awesome time. Joey managed to get to one end a back almost and i climbed some boulder problems (6c - 7a)

We've met some new great friends called: Nachos, Jerome, Nuria, Juan, Clive and Claire plus others which i can't remember due to the huge amount of beers we had bought for us. But i do remember we beat all the best locals at pool and made quite a stir.

Internet isn't very quick in Spain so updates may take some time.

Hasta luego