To get some fresh air, Bellevue residents could take a stroll around their neighborhood. Or they could head to one of the nearly 100 parks in the area for a game of baseball, a tennis match, or a lesson on botanicals. The extensive park system beckons locals to take advantage of the wide array of green spaces and activities in the area, many of which are free. It also holds regular events and leads programs that range from nature film viewings to crime prevention forums aimed at addressing delinquent squirrels.
Things are always looking up at Seattle Bouldering Project, a south city climbing gym where both indoor and outdoor rock climbers enjoy the challenging ascents. The space offers typical bouldering (rock climbing without harnesses or ropes, using only special climbing shoes and techniques to ascend) courses on any of their multi-level artificial climbing walls, plus bouldering classes for all skill levels. Seattle Bouldering Project focuses on climbers aged four to adult, with special times and programs for the little ones, plus all of the necessary safety precautions. Occasional climbers can buy a day pass for use of the entire sprawling facility, while avid climbers have a choice of membership levels. There are climbing shoes and crash pads for rent at the gym, and instructors also teach the occasional yoga and fitness class.
In 1987, indoor climbing was as unpopular in the Seattle area as breeding labradoodles. But Vertical World––a pioneer indoor climbing gym––introduced the city to the up-and-coming sport of rock climbing in a controlled environment. Since its inception, the gym has expanded to three other locations in Everett, Tacoma, and Redmond, the latter hosting eastside climbers for more than 20 years.
A team of experienced route creators challenges climbers with more than 200 bouldering, lead, or top-rope routes in a wide variety of difficulty levels. The gym hosts competitive youth teams that have gone on to national or world tournaments. The gym's staff of climbers and guides also leads outdoor excursions that build confidence and teach novices how to identify a rock wall in the wild.
Though founded by a seasoned international climber, Mountain Madness is dedicated to getting amateurs out on the peaks. A squad of guides, adept at both climbing and teaching, lead excursions that include climbs and wilderness treks, all while imparting practical mountaineering skills. This holds true on their specialty North American alpine summit climbs that accommodate the varying paces of beginner and more experienced climbers. At areas such as Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, groups navigate forests, active glaciers, rugged rock formations, and intersections with broken traffic lights as they advance to the top?either in one day or over a longer camping trip.
Adventure also permeates the rock-climbing courses, and an array of lead-rope-climbing excursions. Both set out to conquer single- and multi-pitch climbs over granite and other rock on routes in Washington Pass, Leavenworth, and beyond. Though the aforementioned trips are available year-round, avalanche-preparedness training and backcountry skiing excursions present different ways to delve into the winter wilderness.
The scenic mountain peaks in the Pacific Northwest help make rock climbing one of the most popular sports in the region. Stone Gardens: The Climbers Gym offers experts and beginners the chance to sharpen their skills, or get comfortable with the rules of the ropes. This expansive space in Ballard has 16,000 square feet of climbing space under a soaring 65-foot high ceiling, plus an outdoor wall, offering climbs ranging from easy scrambles to highly technical ascents. A primer course offers an info-packed first lesson on all of the basics, including tying in, standard climbing commands and safety essentials. Many other class options are available, including technique, belaying, classes for women, private instruction and children’s programs. Many first-timers end up becoming members and plugging into the vibrant community that surrounds Stone Gardens, while an attached retail shop outfits climbers with all of their needs.
Parkour Visions teaches aspiring traceurs—the French word for parkour practitioners—how to overcome physical obstacles. Though the sport's origins are a bit fuzzy, it has achieved a wider audience thanks to the many parkour videos uploaded to Youtube as well as the popularity of the television show American Ninja Warrior. These all highlight the purpose of parkour: to improve speed, strength, and coordination while learning how to move efficiently through your environment. At Parkour Visions's three locations, seasoned traceurs teach students of all skill levels and ages how to safely execute basic movements and landings, and, as a non-profit organization, they pay it forward by working with parks to help maintain their grounds and encourage safe outdoor training.