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.
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.
ClimbX's indoor, ever-changing rock walls mimic the dusty color of actual outdoor crags. In this environment, climbers of all ages and abilities strap on safety equipment and climbing gear and learn to master the hand and toe grips that cover the arena's artificial rock formations. The outgoing and experienced staff teaches introductory-level climbing courses that impart basic safety procedures, proper belay technique, and climbing commands. A kids' climbing club coaches climbers aged 17 and younger through the basics of tying top-rope knots and securing handholds tightly even when those handholds start to quietly chuckle. When not helping people turn into spider-people, the staff also hosts birthday parties and corporate teambuilding events.
Presented in part by Dan Clark, also known as Nitro, of American Gladiator fame, the Gladiator Rock'n Run 6K pairs an obstacle-heavy running course with post-race entertainment, including beer, music, and food. Six kilometers’ worth of collective scampering awaits participants as muscle-testing obstacles impede progress to the finish line. Those prepared to race must dance through tires, army-crawl through mud, and clamber up rope ladders to avoid barrels thrown by giant apes. The roar of spectators rings throughout the course as bystanders cheer on runners to inspire strong finishes. Gladiator Rock'n Run proceeds go toward a good cause, helping to raise money for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), an organization that provides education, support, and information to aid parents in helping their children diagnosed with autism.
The bulk of TruHold's indoor facility pops with colorful holds peppering a looming rock wall. Arranged by levels clearly marked "0" through "5," the grips skirt along the face of a specially designed, angular climbing wall that shifts from a steep 50 degrees to a beginner-friendly 10 degrees. Built for the bouldering style—ascending diverse terrain quickly without ropes or harnesses while dodging boulders hurled by an angry cyclops—the wall juts out over a lushly padded crash mat that cushions climbers. Experienced and professional bouldering climbers offer clinics, classes, gear rental, and open-climb times at their 4,200-square-foot indoor facility, all in the pursuit of welcoming uninitiated climbers into the fold.
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.
Bouldering, rock climbing's weird cousin who only wears sleeveless shirts, condenses the challenge of scaling a wall by contorting the vertical plane into strange shapes, inversions, convexes, and concaves. Every route becomes a problem, an intense, Escheresque puzzle of grit and physical stamina that builds endurance, spatial-thinking skills, and body awareness. The introductory classes will impart the basics of navigating these challenging routes.