950 N Penn St, Philadelphia, PA | Directions 1912339.962314 -75.135413
Neighborhoods: Northern Liberties/ Fishtown, North Philadelphia
Long, but worth reading – I'm going to apologize first because this is a long review. For a beginner, this place is ok. For anyone else, eh. Myself & 5 friends traveled from MD &DE, to try out rock gyms near us. We stepped in & all thought it was rather small, but gave it a shot because it was a new gym & we wanted to try it out.
We knew we had to do our belay test going to a new place. The woman told us to come out w.our gear on. First thing she said is that you have to climb w.2 carabiners, not 1. This is so if 1 fails for whatever reason, you have a backup. That makes sense, but at this gym, you don't have to make a figure 8 knot before tying in, because the climbers rope has a loop on the bottom that is taped to the rest of the rope. Since the loop is pre-made, what happens if the rope you're tied into start to go bad & rip? 2 carabiners will not save you from the fall. Hopefully your belay partner will save you. That's more of a safety issue than strategy. Plus, the ropes are all bungee ropes! During our test, the only thing we had to do was climb and fall. As my boyfriend was taking our friends fall, his feet came off the mat & he just about ran into the tester from the ropes' stretchiness; not due to my bf's inexperience. Every other place we've been tested at, we had to explain tying the figure 8 knot & why, 2 points of contact on climber & belayer, reciting the correct terms, and taking the fall correctly w.rope, which is how it should be in my opinion. We did NONE of that here. The woman also talked very fast during the whole test; good thing we already knew everything else. This was just the test part.
We got over the odd test, & I went up 1st. I'm between 5.7/8, so I picked a 5.7, to see the difference from what I climb in MD. Halfway up, it felt like I hit a sauna. The warm air was midway throughout the whole gym. It hits you & it was hard to finish the climb. Not to mention, the rope was crossed at the top where it loops around to come back down, so I was stuck, and my bf could not take any slack or let me down. I was also stuck in the sauna when we realized the issue. The only way to get me unstuck was to get to the top. I was told to try to swing the rope back & forth, all while holding onto the wall, but no luck. I slipped trying a second time to swing the rope, and swung pretty far from my wall. I felt like george of the jungle swinging from a vine! It took me about 20 min. after everyone stopped trying to help us for me to finish. That's when I saw the crossed rope at the top. For my first climb in a new gym, I was not happy. I finally get down, and another pair try the same course I just got stuck on; same thing happened to her. Even she was struggling to get to the top.
Then a huge group of kids & their parents came in, and it got super crowded. I'm not talking a crowd of 10, more like a crowd of 25. I finished a course & had to yell 4 times to let my partner know I was ready to be lowered, because the huge crowd of people was cheering every 30 seconds when 1 of their climbers took another step up. The girl belaying them had them climbing up the higher walls, not the shorter 1's. None of them got more than halfway & came down.
Then bouldering section. There were no thick mats for you to fall on, just the semi foam floor that was laid throughout the whole gym. I know that might not be a big deal to some, but if you drop down or fall the wrong way w.no mat under you, you might break something.
We were all trying to keep an open mind being that it was a new gym, but none of us were impressed. The woman testing us was not mean or rude, she actually taught us a different way to lower someone that made our hand not burn from the rope which was cool. There was also no merchandise aside from chalk. The parking situation was a bit sketchy too. You park on side streets even though the site says there's lots of free parking. I would not go there again honestly. If you want to go despite this, hopefully you'll have a better experience.
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