When it comes to indoor rock climbing there are two main styles: top rope (the one with the harness and high walls) and bouldering (without a harness, low walls). Usually there are separate gyms for each activity, but for those who love both, we’ve got good news. Australia’s biggest rock climbing centre, Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym, has just opened a state-of-the-art bouldering gym next door.
In terms of size, it’s a little less impressive than Annandale’s newcomer Nomad – it’s probably closer to 9 Degrees in Alexandria. It’s certainly big enough to provide a good variety of climbing styles and difficulty levels. “Our philosophy is to cater for everybody, beginners, intermediate and even really hardcore climbers,” says Mike Garben, the gym’s owner.
Mirroring the competitive bouldering circuit, where there’s been a move towards a wide variety of climbs over different sloped walls, the new gym offers a good spread of slabs (walls leaning inwards), steep walls (which lean outwards) and in-between walls. “In the old days, if you had a slabby bouldering wall no one was interested, it was all steep. These days there's a huge variety of holds to make slabs interesting. There's also parkour, of course, the latest trend, with a lot of dynamic moves, runs, jumps, pushing, stemming, crazy stuff like that,” says Garben.
A lot of effort has been put into providing a good range of holds and routes. You’ll see evidence of that in the sheer variety of hold shapes, including a high proportion of jugs (bigger, easy-grip holds). “There are a lot of players in the hold market. The innovative guys make a lot of big stuff because you can get everything in a big hold, they also look good.”
For those already well acquainted with the gym, the previous and rather small upstairs bouldering section will remain open. “We'll be transitioning that so you can make your own problems. That used to be how all the gyms did it; they’d plaster their walls with holds and you’d make up all the problems. We'd write them down in an exercise book.”
Both memberships and single-entry tickets grant access to both gyms and the new warm-up and training room will soon welcome a rowing machine and a moon board (a practice board).
Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym
4c/1–7 Unwins Bridge Road, St Peters
(02) 9519 3325
Mon to Wed, Fri 9.30am–10pm
Sat & Sun 9.30am–9pm