I normally prefer my adventures to be outside. I love getting out in nature and just soaking up the trees, the sky, and the earth. But to me, any activity where you are trying something new and being active is an adventure. And that includes indoor activities too, like indoor rock climbing. I recently made a trip to Saint Petersburg, Florida to test my skills at indoor climbing at Vertical Ventures. It was a great challenge and a lot of fun!
Indoor Climbing Adventure!
This summer I had an intern, Janae, working with me in my web development department at work. Janae was not only a great co-worker, but another kindred lover of any kind of adventure. To celebrate our last days working together, we planned an afternoon to go climbing at Vertical Ventures. We reserved our spots in the “Intro to Belay” class online a few days prior. Climbing day came, and we made our way down to St. Pete for our indoor climbing adventure! We arrived at Vertical Ventures on a Tuesday afternoon. We were immediately impressed with the size of the space and the immaculate and calm atmosphere.
A Glimpse at the Gym
Since we had filled out our waivers online, we did not need to do them in person, but we noticed the stations set up to fill out a waiver. We checked in at the front desk and let them know we had reservations for the Intro to Belay class. The class costs $25, and includes admission into the gym for the day, harness rental, chalk bag rental, and shoe rental. The staff at the front desk set us up with our gear and taught us how to fit it and check for safety. We were then given a tour of the space while we waited for our class time.
Vertical Ventures is huge! A staff member showed us the three climbing areas: the top rope walls with the belay, the bouldering area, and “the pit” area with lead climbing. (The Pit area is only accessible by passing certain skill tests). He also explained the rating system of the routes, and how the auto belays worked. There is also a large area in the center with a few small tables and chairs, and an area to relax on some sofas and watch TV. It was spacious, and there were a lot of people already climbing, but it did not feel crowded. Janae and I loved the vibe that the whole gym had.
Intro to Belay Class
Our instructor, Brandon, was ready for us for our Intro to Belay class. Janae and I were the only ones in class today. He took us over to a smaller area near the top rope walls. It was here that he went over all our equipment and made sure we knew how to use it and how to check for safety. Brandon taught us how to use the Grigri belay device, and we practiced our belays on Brandon.
When Brandon was satisfied that we were comfortable with how to belay, we moved to another wall. It was a top rope wall, but smaller than the regular walls we would use later. Here, Brandon showed us how to clip into a belay station for both the climber and the person on the ground. We were also taught the basic climbing lingo, and then it was time to practice with each other on the wall. After a few times each, Brandon told us we were ready to go explore the gym on our own and test out the walls!
Ready to Climb!
Janae and I sized up the top rope wall, and chose a route we wanted to try. I was a little nervous while she was climbing that I might make a mistake belaying her. But, after a few minutes I had the hang of it. We took turns climbing the routes and trying a few different difficulties. We also tried out some of the auto belay stations. These were neat! It was nice to be able to climb a route without having a partner at the bottom. It gave us a chance to take a few photos of each other.
After a while on the top rope walls, we headed over to the bouldering area. There were a ton of routes to choose from. Since we were starting to feel a little fatigue in our arms, we stuck to the easier routes. We had a lot of fun testing our skills, but even more fun watching the experienced climbers tackle the difficult routes. The routes that invert upside down are really cool!
We finished up our visit with a few more of the top rope climbs, taking turns belaying for each other and also using the auto belays. Even though our arms were getting tired, we could have stayed a lot longer. We were enjoying the chill atmosphere and challenging ourselves on the walls. This is definitely a place where you could hang out all day! We both enjoyed our indoor climbing adventure at Vertical Ventures. If you want to learn more, visit their website here.