Pittsburgh area climbers are lucky. With two of the oldest rock gyms in the country and two state-of-the-art locations opening in the last few years, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to indoor options. And we need it, considering western PA’s weather dampening effect on outdoor climbing.
If you’re just starting out, climbing gyms offer a great entry point with a minimal investment of time and money. For all levels, indoor walls offer a surefire way to improve technique, progress to more challenging climbing, work on fitness and strength, and simply immerse yourself in climbing culture.
Find your spot at one of these local gyms.
The Climbing Wall
Climbing: The Climbing Wall was founded in 1992, making it one of the older gyms in the country. It’s also one of the largest in Pittsburgh, with 14,000 square feet of climbing, including bouldering, top-rope, and lead climbing with some auto-belay devices. A variety of features will keep most climbers challenged, and the routes are reset regularly.
Details: The gym has changing rooms and restrooms but no showers or locker rooms. Rates are very reasonable: $12 for a day pass, $4 to rent shoes, helmets are free. The Climbing Wall also rents harnesses, belay devices, and chalk bags for $2 each. A monthly pass for adults is $60. There are also regular discounts for women’s nights, students, military, and first responders. Find free off-street parking next to the gym in Point Breeze.
Refuel: Check out the East End Co-op in the same building for snacks, drinks, or even a quick dinner to take home.
More Info: theclimbingwall.net
Iron City Boulders
Climbing: Located near the river in Lawrenceville, Iron City Boulders is the newest climbing gym in the area. It has 11,000 square feet of climbing in an open, airy gym. You’ll find over 250 boulder problems. Beginners through experts will find plenty to challenge them on features made by indoor specialist Walltopia. And in addition to the standard climbing instruction, Iron City Boulders also offers regular yoga classes.
Details: Don’t worry if you are driving into Lawrenceville from the suburbs—there’s plenty of onsite, free parking. You’ll also find locker rooms and showers (gender-neutral), a coffee and tea bar, and a training area with weights and cardio equipment. The wi-fi is free, with many places to sit and use it between sessions on the wall. Rates are $17 daily, $5 for shoes or a harness and belay device, and $2 for a chalk bag. Memberships are $65 monthly, with a $50 initiation fee, and a discount for families and military/first responders.
Refuel: Stop by Ice City Boulder’s neighbor, Spirit, for eats and drinks. Spirit is located in a former Moose Lodge, with plenty of outdoor seating and great pizza.
More Info: ironcityboulders.com
Climbing: Established in 1993, Climb North offers 7,100 square feet of climbing with bouldering, top-rope, and lead options. Advanced climbers will find plenty of variety with slabs, overhangs, and lay-back routes. The bouldering area includes a cave and has over 100 problems. Climb North welcomes beginners with plenty of accessible routes, but there are limited auto-belays here, so come with a partner or be prepared to make some friends.
Details: Climb North is 20 minutes north of the city in Wildwood, with plenty of free parking. Rates are $15 daily, harness and shoes are $4 each, and a month pass is $65 (with discounts for multiple months).
Refuel: Head West on Wildwood Road through North Park, and stop at the Tomato Pie Cafe. The focus here is on fresh ingredients, many of them grown on site.
More Info: climbnorth.com