Sydney’s been hit by a rock-climbing wave. Just months after Nomad opened, and with rumours circling about several international gyms opening, Sydney has just welcomed yet another climbing gym: 9 Degrees Parramatta. The confusingly named gym (it’s actually in Rydalmere) is an expansion of the popular Alexandria-based bouldering gym of the same name.
“Alexandria was a huge success. We wanted to expand and tailor a gym more to what we'd learnt about Sydney and what Sydney climbers want,” says Jack Masel, the gym’s manager. He and Martijn van Eijkelenborg, the gym’s owner, kept hearing there weren’t enough steep and overhanging climbs; a lot of people training for outdoor cave climbing had nowhere to go.
To address this, they’ve installed a large overhang, as well as several smaller steep climbs; and an extensive training room. There you’ll find climbers strength training on a moon board (a short climbing wall featuring small holds); pumping chin-ups on fitness equipment; setting climbs on a system board (a low training wall with wooden holds); and testing their finger, grip and hanging strength on a 170 hold Beastmaker (a board of smooth wooden ledges).
The climbing area, slightly smaller than its sister venue in Alexandria, but big compared to the other bouldering gyms, is designed for more than pure strength and technique training. “We want to offer different styles of climbing; you can do more endurance stuff, tension stuff, plain power moves,” says Masel, a high-ranking competitive climber.
Experienced climbers may notice the climbs feel a bit different. Many gyms in Sydney use Walltopia blocks, but 9 Degrees Parramatta has German-made Blocz. “We have a few volume-only climbs to show what they're about. That's climbing with [features and without] holds. It's more about body position than how much you can hold on.”
Each of the climbs will be reset by sector rather than colour or grade (like at Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym). “I'll do a different sector, about eight metres of wall, once or twice a week. Basically, the whole gym will be reset every four to seven weeks.”