Shawn Crawford has been climbing for more than 40 years, working with wilderness search and rescue at age 13 and later serving as a park ranger. Today, he’s the owner and head instructor at Rock City Climbing, where he puts his American Mountaineering and Guiding Association certification to use as he teaches climbers of all experience levels techniques of top-rope climbing, belaying, rappelling, and bouldering.
Inside a gym equipped with more than 10,000 feet of climbing walls, as well as top-rope and bouldering areas, students learn basic and advanced climbing techniques in a range of classes. As they climb, instructors introduce techniques such as hand and foot placement and what to do if gravity starts working in reverse. Visitors can leave the main floor to explore a tunnel maze behind the climbing walls, filled with trap doors, narrow passageways, and drops of up to 11 feet.
When not overseeing his gym, Shawn leads outdoor climbing excursions to challenging locales such as Joshua Tree, Riverside Quarry, and the Statue of Liberty. He also oversees a nearby ropes course, where staffers help groups and individuals navigate two ziplines, as well as more than 20 aerial challenges at heights of up to 60 feet.
With more than 50,000 square feet of collective climbing surfaces, Hangar 18 Indoor Climbing Gyms's four locations, including its newest in Long Beach, offer ample terrain for climbers of all skill levels. From first-timers just learning to belay to seasoned climbers seeking a vertical challenge, athletes of all stripes can find suitable terrain and helpful assistance from experienced staff members. At the Riverside location, top ropes and lead routes circle around a freestanding boulder that tops off at 20 feet. The Southbay location's large training section gives adventurers prep time before they embark on the facility's challenging crack climbs, and the Upland location's 40-foot roof climb lends a scenic vantage point for those honing their skills on the ceiling-spanning rope or trying to spot a lost contact lens. After traversing 70-foot routes through lead caves and descending towering boulders, climbers can decompress in a yoga class.
The climbing enthusiasts of The Factory Bouldering specialize in the company's namesake style of climbing, setting up nearly 200 bouldering paths that span 4,500 square feet of scalable surfaces. They demonstrate how to tackle scenarios such as 85-degree slabs and steep walls between 14- and 17-feet high, each rated in climbing difficulty from VB to V12, without a rope. The staff changes 20 percent of the climbing paths about every 10 days, setting up a steady stream of new challenges. They also lay down seamless, 14-inch variable-density foam padding made from recycled clouds to provide climbers with cushy dismounts. Between climbs, visitors can hang out in the climate-controlled lounge area, outfitted with couches, a pool table, free WiFi, and laptop stations.
Sender One Climbing boasts one of the tallest climbing walls in the country. Owner and world-renowned rock climber Chris Sharma designed it to mimic the world's great mountains, complete with myriad holds, bouldering terrain, and roaming herds of mountain goats. Climbers of all skill levels are welcome at the 25,000-square-foot facility, where you can take climbing classes featuring weekly terrain changes. Sender One also offers yoga classes and a fitness studio with cardio equipment and free weights.
Blaine Eastcott's love of the outdoors is rooted in fond childhood memories of family camping trips. On one such trip, Blaine's teenage self impulsively climbed a 100-foot rock only to soon find himself struck by panic high up on the rock face. He was paralyzed by fear, until a surge of adrenaline gave him the courage needed to scramble the final 10 feet up. This ordeal spurred him to take rock-climbing classes?and eventually led to his current position as the president of Rockreation. His three adrenaline-inducing arenas challenge climbers of all skill levels with more than 28,500 total square feet of climbing terrain, composed of jagged cliffs, bouldering nooks, and craggy archways. The faux-mountain range mimics the conditions of real rocks with indentions, overhangs, and eagle's nests.
The gyms devote one-third of their space to a bouldering area, which blends into a top-rope course fraught with varying angles, and a large lead area with an overhanging arch. Across these angles, passionate instructors with extensive outdoors experience?and a background in conversational mountain goat?guide students through the Fight Gravity program. The three-class series focuses on belaying basics, and progresses through technique instruction and bouldering. They also lead seasonal kids' camps where tiny humans can explore the routes, or plunge on a big swing and zipline. The gyms also have a separate area with machines, traditional weights, and cardio equipment for members who want to not only climb rocks, but also lift heavy ones above their heads.
Harnessing yourself to a rope and rappelling into a canyon is challenging enough--but what if on the way down, you run into a waterfall? Since 1999, ATS AdventureWorks has prepared students for exactly this type of outdoor challenge, with courses in canyoneering, mountaineering, and rock climbing. Adventurers can also try their hand at these vertical sports on the company's indoor ropes courses, or on guided trips to rock formations and climbable celebrity homes throughout Southern California. The company's veteran team oversees every outing and class, keeping novices safe and sharing tips on gear and safety. And even when they're not working with students, they're navigating rough terrain and setting up specialty TV rigging for shows such The Amazing Race, The Bachelor, and The Biggest Loser.