If you are looking to invigorate your workout routine, try one of Seattle’s many indoor climbing gyms for a full-body workout that will wake up countless minute muscles. Avid climbers say you will be having so much fun you didn’t feel like you were working out — until the next day, that is.
In 2021, 5.6 million people nationwide were climbing the walls for fun, and Seattle, the home of the first indoor climbing gym, is right on-trend with gyms all over town. (statista.com/statistics/763788/climbing-sport-indoor-boulder-participants-us/)
There are two main types of climbing. Rock climbing focuses on vertical rise and uses scaling equipment like ropes and harnesses, and a partner to help manage your rope — a belayer. Bouldering involves mastering shorter, more lateral courses called “problems,” and climbers work without harnesses above padded surfaces.
If you are new to climbing, you shouldn’t need any special equipment — most gyms will rent shoes, or you can use your regular sneakers at first — but ask the gym about their best activities for beginners. You may need to book a lesson or guided session.
Here’s the beta (climber talk for key info on a climbing route) on a few gyms where you can hone that Spiderman grip in any weather:
2330 W. Commodore Way, Seattle, (206) 283-4497
The O.G. — the first in the country, it began with rocks glued to plywood in 1987 and now has locations in Seattle, Redmond and Lynwood featuring state-of-the-art equipment. Climbers must be 14 and older. For your debut climb, staff recommend you take the Intro to Climbing class or have an experienced belayer with you who can pass the Belay Check test. You can also advance book a “Rock Climbing Experience” with a staff belayer.
Edgeworks Climbing and Fitness
2839 N.W. Market St., Seattle, (206) 781-9828
Formerly Stone Gardens, this Ballard fixture was recently acquired by Tacoma’s Edgeworks Climbing. It offers over 17,500 square feet of climbing terrain, including a windowed climb facing the Burke-Gilman Trail and a 40-foot outdoor wall and bouldering courses. Beginner or climbing solo? Sign up for the “Pro Belay” with a staff belayer. Children under 14 are welcome with adult supervision. Offers a BIPOC-guide training program.
Seattle Bouldering Project
3535 Interlake Ave. North, (206) 430-7757
Main Fremont facility
3625 Interlake Ave. North, (206) 535-8077
Upper Walls facility
900 Poplar Place South, (206) 299-2300
An early bouldering pioneer in 2011, SBO now has several locations: the Poplar gym near Judkins Park and two in Fremont. The main gym includes a café, weight room and sauna, and the quieter, pared-down Upper Walls facility is for people who want to boulder sans distraction. Look for a new branch in the University District in fall 2023 in the landmark University National Bank Building.
Momentum Indoor Climbing
2759 First Ave. South, Seattle, (206) 588-1510
This outpost of a Utah gym in SoDo offers an intimate space to practice bouldering and runs an adult league to meet fellow rock-heads.
124 N. 85th St., Seattle, (206)736-4596
Launched during the pandemic, this new Greenwood neighborhood gym features 5,000 square feet of bouldering walls, a moonboard for interactive app-driven competition and welcomes families with a castle to climb.
7700 Sand Point Way Northeast, (206) 521-6001
A non-profit group for enthusiasts, its Magnuson Park base has a gear shop, offers classes and an outdoor climbing wall.
Climbers of Color
This group fosters diversity and inclusion in the climbing community with training, mentorship, and scholarship programs.
5209 Ballard Ave. Northwest, (206) 545-8810
Find new and used gear of all kinds, including mountaineering.