Are you new to rock climbing and not sure where to start? Is it something you’ve always wanted to try but you’re not quite sure how to go about it? Rock climbing in its natural setting is an incredible way to explore the outdoors. The challenge, the adventure, the exposure; and those views! But outdoor rock climbing is far from straight forward. Where do you go? How does it work? What gear do you need? How do you choose a guide? There are a lot of considerations that make getting vertical outdoors a challenge in itself.
Learn Something New
INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING
Indoor climbing gyms have taken what was once considered an extreme sport and transformed it to something that anyone can do. From toddlers to seniors, climbing is accessible to anyone wanting to take that first step up. Climbing gyms are a safe, controlled environment that makes learning easy. Modular climbing holds are used on artificial climbing walls that allow for an infinite variety of climbs, at any level of difficulty. All of this in a climate-controlled facility allows you to socialize and get a great workout.
IT'S MORE THAN JUST A WORKOUT
With the year-round comfort and convenience of indoor climbing gyms, rock climbing is an excellent fitness choice, with many factors making it unique from other mainstream sports. It combines strength, power, agility, balance, problem-solving, trust, and much much more. It’s a physical challenge that’s not as straight forward as simply pulling your way up. In fact, you don’t need to be strong to get started. It’s a chess match with climbing holds - planning your next move, figuring out the most efficient hand and foot sequence and using your entire body to generate movement. Building strength is a natural outcome. Trying something that might seem impossible at first, but kinaesthetically feeling your body learn the movement through proper technique is what makes you crave more.
What’s unique about rock climbing is the natural measurement of progress. Unlike other sports where time, speed, or score are your factors of gain, climbing measures success through successfully completing routes of various grades. Every climb is unique and given a difficulty grade, based on the difficulty of the movements, using the Yosemite Decimal System. This system was developed in the 1930’s to categorize free climbing where ropes are required for safety. The YDS provides climbers with a difficulty scale to identify how hard a climb is; 5.0 being the easiest, and 5.15 being the hardest climb to date. In the gym, expect the easiest climbs to be around 5.4. These climbs are very accessible with large positive holds giving you secure grip to the top. Harder climbs in the gym reach difficulty levels up to 5.13. As the grades get higher, the holds become more specific; sometimes they’re simply smaller or harder to grip, requiring specific body positions - movements and techniques learned through mileage and experience.
A GREAT WAY TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS
Climbing is a social activity, whether it’s at the crag or the gym. It’s a positive community that is helpful and welcoming to newcomers. This sport seems to attract great people. Since there’s the inherent danger of falling, climbers rely on each other which creates a strong element of trust and camaraderie within the sport.
THE FIVE STAR FACTORY
At Aspire, we are passionate about climbing and offering great customer experiences with each and every route and boulder problem we set. Our dedicated team of route setters, known as the Five Star Factory, meticulously crafts each climb to be fun, challenging, aesthetic and intelligent. We don't set ladders, and we don't vanity grade. We want our customers to learn new movements, techniques and sequences with each new climb. Our grading is based on Ontario outdoor grades because that is the standard we believe in. We strive to continue this promise to be innovative and interesting for years of climbing enjoyment at all levels.
Climbing provides the perfect opportunity to be social or independent. We offer 12 Auto-Belays by Perfect Descent to reduce the barrier to getting started. Rather than having a partner on the ground to handle the ropes, Auto-Belays safety secure the climber as they climb our 25ft climbing walls. If the climber falls or decides they want to come down, the Auto-Belay will lower them down safely at a controlled rate. An orientation is required to use these climbs and is offered in our Drop-In Special. Each Auto-Belay has multiple climbs to provide a range from 5.4 up to 5.11+ making them suitable for all levels.
With 30ft high walls, you bet we have ropes for safety! Top rope is done in pairs, with a climber and a belayer. The ropes are pre-set at the top of each climb, hence the term “top rope”. As the climber progresses up the wall, the belayer takes in the slack through a belay device called a Petzl GriGri. If the climber falls, decides to come down or reaches the top, the belayer securely lowers the climber safely to the ground. Aspire Climbing has 60 top-rope stations throughout the gym with 2 colour identified climbs on each rope, giving us the potential for over 100 top rope climbs.
A more advanced form of roped climbing, lead climbers start with the rope on the ground connected directly to their belayer. As they climb up the walls, the belayer feeds slack through the belay device so the climber can clip into pre-set anchors called quick-draws along their route. If the climbers falls above their last anchor, they will fall a distance greater than what’s experienced on top rope. Although it can be a bit scarier, lead climbers and belayers learn the specific skills needed to minimize risk. Needless to say this is reserved for more experienced climbers, but it’s a great introduction to the style of climbing that’s commonly done outdoors on real rock.
We love leading and we are happy to say that we have more lead climbs than top-rope! Our bolt spacing is tight to minimize risk and to allow route setters to follow lines that inspire them. We're a great place to learn to lead and especially for youth to practice and develop.
Rather than climbing on rock faces that require ropes for safety, bouldering originated from climbing on boulders lower to the ground. Once considered just practice climbing, bouldering has become a sport of it’s own. At a height of 16ft, our bouldering walls feature various angles from slabs (incline less than vertical) to very steep roof sections, with soft crash pads below to cushion a fall. Bouldering also has it’s own grading system known as the V-scale to rate problems (the term for bouldering routes). Problems are much more difficult to grade than routes, due to an infinite number of factors and styles. The bouldering at Aspire Climbing will be simplified using colours to identify grade ranges or circuits. These circuits make it easier to find problems of similar difficulty.
Just like regular bouldering, only smaller! Our kids’ bouldering walls are 10ft high with even softer crash pads below to cushion falls for the lighter weight of young climbers. Featuring various wall angles, our kids bouldering walls are an accessible practice wall for youngsters or adults to learn and refine fundamental climbing movement.