There are three main climbing gyms in Colorado Springs for when you're feeling the need to slap some plastic, whether it's training for outdoor adventures or just getting a workout inside. All three host competitions, both for local schools and the general public to test their skills and have some competitive fun. They also provide gear rental, instruction and some fitness equipment to boot (plus the obligatory yoga options).
Springs Climbing Center (aka SCC, formerly Sports Climbing Center)
4642 Northpark Drive, springsclimbingcenter.com
The first climbing gym in the Springs and one of the first in the country, they recently celebrated their 25th anniversary.
Primarily a bouldering gym with about 160 boulder problems at any given time; there's some top-rope and lead climbing, too.
Back in the day, their fall zones were river pebbles; we were stoked when they upgraded to padded flooring and expanded into more space with some great new bouldering terrain (rumor is, another renovation is in the offing, converting fully to bouldering, which will mean more new terrain to get your psych on).
A day pass is $13, shoes, harness and chalk rental available.
Pure Bouldering Gym
1401 S. Eighth St., pureboulderinggym.com
The name says it all, it's purely a bouldering gym with a nice mix of terrain and difficulties tucked into their space (conveniently co-located with a new-and-used gear store — Gearonimo Sports).
On the right night you just might have the staff all to yourself to give you beta (advice) on the boulder problem you're working.
If you really don't have time to get outside, their outdoor bouldering area is a great place to get a session in and catch some rays.
A day pass is $12, shoes, harness and chalk rental available.
CityROCK Climbing Center
21 N. Nevada Ave., climbcityrock.com
Right downtown and housed in a former movie theater, at 43 feet, CityROCK once had the tallest indoor walls in the state.
The biggest of the three gyms, they have a good mix of bouldering and roped terrain.
If you're of age, they have a bar up front (The Ute and Yeti) with some very good beers and decent eats for post-climb, and for those cold winter days, a fireplace!
A day pass is $17, shoes, harness and chalk rental available. (Disclosure: The author is part owner of CityROCK.)
First and foremost, it's a big step going from the climbing gym to outside. Make sure you develop the skills and knowledge to climb outdoors safely. That being said, here are some great resources for developing your know-how:
Pikes Peak Alpine School
The only guides with permit access to guiding on Pikes Peak.
All their guides are American Mountain Guides Association certified; their lead guide Pete is one of the friendliest and most knowledgeable guides you'll ever come across. His passion for teaching and sharing is contagious.
Locally they guide at Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon Open Space, North Cheyenne Cañon and Glen Cove on Pikes Peak, not to mention other adventures farther afield.
Front Range Climbing Co.
They boast a cadre of folks who were involved in developing much of the climbing in our area.
Locally they guide at Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon Open Space and North Cheyenne Cañon, and offer trips as far away as Utah.
First Ascent Mountain School
Relatively new to the scene and started by a local UCCS grad.
They have a small stable of AMGA-certified guides.
Locally they guide at Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon Open Space, North Cheyenne Cañon and a bit less local at North Table Mountain.
The Colorado Climbing Company
Also relatively new to the scene — just 7 years old.
They have a small stable of AMGA-certified guides.
Locally they guide at Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon Open Space and North Cheyenne Cañon, and offer many options farther afield in Colorado and Mexico.
There's a reason so many outdoor enthusiasts move to the Springs area. We're fortunate to have plenty of quality climbing well within day-trip range, and lots more if you're up for camping out. Mountain Project (mountainproject.com) is a free online resource loaded with local climbing info (thank you Black Diamond). Mountain Chalet (226 N. Tejon St.) is our downtown outdoor gear shop and they carry all the local area climbing guides — support local!
Garden of the Gods
1805 N. 30th St., gardenofgods.com
The Garden is the practically-at-home place to go to understand why sandstone climbing can be so scary and to have your picture taken a zillion times by all the tourist passersby. IMPORTANT: Sandstone is much weaker when it's wet; allow some dry, sunny days before climbing here. We marvel that the Garden has so much tourist traffic yet still has great climber access. Respect it. You need a permit to climb there, so check in at the visitor center. This is an old-school climbing area, locally infamous for having highball first bolts (or ancient pins or pitons, yeah, old school), look where you're going (and the consequences thereof) before choosing your adventure. There are both good sport and trad routes and some bouldering, too. As you're enjoying the great access here, don't forget to thank Rocky Mountain Field Institute (rmfi.org) and the Pikes Peak Climbers Alliance (pikespeakclimbersalliance.org) for the great trails here (and donate some time or funds to help them keep up the good work).
Red Rock Canyon Open Space
3615 W. High St., redrockcanyonopenspace.org
The newest of the local crags, Red Rock Canyon Open Space was developed in 2004 by a group of local climbers in partnership with the city. The rock here is very similar to that of the Garden so the same rules of etiquette apply: Please stay off the rocks when they're wet. Red Rocks also requires a permit; pick one up at Garden of the Gods visitors center. The slabs here are a prime place to work on sandstone footwork, but with nice new bolts with confidence-inspiring spacing. It doesn't take much winter sun to warm up enough to climb, and with canyon walls on either side it can get pretty toasty — you'll want to chase the shade here in the summer. Red Rocks has a pretty broad range of routes with some nice moderates, and it's all sport, so leave your trad rack at home.
2110 N. Cheyenne Cañon Road, tfocc.org
Slightly up into the hills southwest of town, this area is a little controversial. Some climbers are of the opinion that there are some good-quality climbs to be had here, and at 10 minutes from downtown it is an amazing escape. Others think the granite here is more akin to a chossy pile of kitty litter and you couldn't pay them to set hand or foot on it. Either way, it's more climbing in our backyard and we're glad to have it. With sport, trad and bouldering, there's a little of all to be had here (and we do mean little, there aren't that many routes). Bring your approach shoes; some of the routes/walk-offs here take a bit of a hike through some pretty loose scree.