My 7-year-old son Adam could barely contain himself as we stepped inside Stone Summit’s impressive 45,000-square-foot facility. With climbing walls from 25 feet to more than 60 feet high, he announced at the onset that he would make it to the top of the highest wall. I was a little intimidated, having never climbed before – and being afraid of heights! – but Adam’s excitement and determination seemed contagious.
After signing the mandatory safety waiver, we were each fitted into climbing shoes and a harness. We had signed up for the one-hour “base climb,” a good choice for a first-timer because an instructor stays with you. Our friendly instructor Zack took us upstairs to the beginner climbing walls, roped Adam into his harness and sent him up. Adam easily made his way to the very top and loved dangling from his rope and kicking off the wall as he was gently lowered back down to the ground. As I began my first climb, I was surprised by how much effort it took! It certainly looks easier from the ground than it really is. I was proud of myself for making it to the top (and for not looking down). That gave me courage to tackle the more difficult walls.
Zack took us downstairs to the main climbing floor and Adam began the more challenging route. I could see him taking more time to figure out the next steps. My attempt was not quite as fearless. I climbed up higher and higher using muscles long ignored, but the height aspect got to me and I asked to be lowered down.
Adam and I both enjoyed the puzzle of figuring out where to step and which handle to reach for next. When you make it way up the wall it’s a terrific feeling. Although I didn’t reach the very top, I was proud to have tried something new that had intimidated me. We both kept climbing to our own comfort levels and too soon the hour was over.
Indoor rock climbing can be a great activity to try with your kids. It teaches them to set goals, makes them think logically, and gives them a great sense of achievement once they reach their goal. Bonus: It’s a fantastic way to release all that energy!
– Kirsten Gromatzky
I was only the mom (and official photographer) bringing two girls, ages 12 and 13, to Atlanta Rocks. Still, I found myself fighting the urge to sing out the lyrics to the Miley Cyrus hit, “The Climb” as I drove Alex and Lindsey to the 12,000-square-foot rock-climbing venue.
After the waivers were turned in (each climber’s parent must sign for their own child), the girls were fitted for climbing shoes (bring socks!) and harnessed up. Then, we all met Nick Snow, our personal climbing expert, who asked the girls a few questions about their climbing experience.
We all trekked over the cushioned floor (made of recycled, shredded tennis shoe soles –
cool!) and made our way over to Route No. 1 (each climbing station at Atlanta Rocks! is called a “route”). The girls stepped into their harnesses. Side by side, they headed up the wall. With careful excitement and constant chatter about who was going to reach the top first, I cheered them on from below, clicking the shutter and watching Nick assist them as they rappelled back down. Mission Accomplished!
It’s definitely fun for beginners to have a buddy to climb with – someone to laugh, encourage and challenge you along the way. The hardest part, they said, was holding their own body weight up close to the wall and figuring out which handle and step to use for their hands and feet. As they maneuvered along, their hands became slippery, so the small bag of chalk attached to each harness came in handy.
Nick took Alex and Lindsey to the bouldering area on the main climbing floor and they worked on their skills laterally – talk about a challenge! No ropes are used here. Kids climb and hang onto the sides of rocks while trying to maneuver themselves from one side to the other. It’s a real workout, not easy for a novice climber.
Next stop was the high-climbing wall, where the girls took their time to go all the way up just so they could slap the number at the top! Each was satisfied just to make it just halfway, but with a little encouragement from Nick below, they both eventually made it – but were definitely exhausted after that!
The last route proved the most challenging by far. It wasn’t that they were climbing higher, it’s that they were forced to climb smarter. Nick reminded them to “think about your feet – move them first, and then think to move your hands!” He was continually helpful, reminding them to stay on specific color-coded handles and footholds.
It was a great physical workout for both budding climbers in just 45 minutes. The girls learned several new skills, had fun and were exhausted in a little less than an hour. As we drove home, “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus came on the radio. Great, great, now that’s stuck in my head all over again!
– Amy Smith
Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness Center
Belay classes, bouldering, parties, teams, summer camps. 3701 Presidential Pkwy., Atlanta.
Cost: Day pass, $13; reservations recommended.
Belay classes, bouldering, parties, family days, ladies nights, summer camps.
1019 Collier Road NW, Ste. A., Atlanta. 404-351-3009; atlantarocks.com
Cost: Day rate, $15; 1-month membership, $75.
Belay classes, bouldering, teams, competitions, Kidzone, family fun days. Climb cheap on Tues. & Thurs., 8-10 p.m., $5.
460 Brogdon Road, Ste. 100, Suwanee. 770-271-1390; adrenalineclimbing.com
Cost: Day pass, $14; 1-month membership, $50.
Escalade Climbing Gym
Classes, birthday parties, children’s climbing playground, family nights, summer camps.
3694 Kennesaw South Industrial Dr., Kennesaw. 770-794-1575; escaladegym.com
Cost: Day pass, $15; Day pass with guide (weekends only), $20; 1-month membership, $70.
Wall Climber Rock Club
Classes, after school climbing clubs, summer camps, student discount nights. 1522 DeKalb Ave. NE, Atlanta.
Cost: Day pass, $14 plus shoe and harness rental fees; Punch card for 10 visits, $130; 1-month membership, $79.