If you have a particular fondness for solid ground, rock climbing probably isn’t for you. Credited for strengthening and toning muscle mass, reducing stress and toughening mental strength (a trait which we’d all like at our disposal), rock climbing is the best exercise for people who hate exercise.
For the newbies: the majority of indoor rock climbing gyms offer neutral shoes to rent. These should be very snug so your toes don’t slide around when you’re climbing. Stick to one colour when you climb—they're rated in ascending difficulty (8 is easier than a ladder, while 26 and upwards is for if you’re the reincarnation of Spiderman).
With two venues in the CBD and Nunawading, Hard Rock’s venues tower in height. The city venue sits above Swanston Street, suspended on a level with ceiling to floor glass for the best views. The Nunawading space is larger, and includes a dedicated bouldering cave. Both spaces offer Safety Induction courses so you can literally put your life in your friend’s sweaty, sweaty hands.
The newest indoor rock climbing gym, North Walls opened its doors earlier this year. Walls measure in at a casual 14-metres (hint: if you have a fear of heights, don’t look down), but the owners have made a conscious effort to create a space, not a gym. The café area boasts house-made isotonic sports drinks and healthy treats, because you definitely deserve them.
Lactic Factory’s bigger, older brother, Northside Boulders has the same tunes, challenging routes and occasional plants as the first venue. Walls vary in incline from minimally slanted to basically bloody horizontal. Walls are only up to 4.5 metres, so you climb without a harness. Yes, there’s a (pretty) cushy floor.
Melbourne’s first dedicated bouldering gym, Lactic Factory is somewhat of an institution in rock climbing circles. The Abbotsford hole-in-wall space features 3.8 metre high walls, which vary from 10-degrees to 60-degrees (ie basically upside down) overhangs. There’s a lush breakout space for when you’re in desperate need of some time out.
Burnley Bouldering Wall
Tucked underneath one of Melbourne’s busiest freeways, the Burnley Bouldering Wall is a free, community-run space. There are three climbing walls arranged in increasing difficulty. BYO rock climbing shoes and equipment, because etiquette is still important when you’re hanging out under a bridge.
Boasting the tallest walls in the Southern Hemisphere, Cliffhanger’s walls stand at 20 metres. There’s a diverse range of graded climbing walls along with two dedicated bouldering areas, crack climbs and a dozen lead climbs so there’s plenty of opportunities to tire yourself out.
There’s plenty of variety at Bayside Rock, including over 50 top rope climbs, bouldering area and high ropes course…in case you don’t feel like you’ve spent enough time in the air.
Melbourne's only international standard speed-climbing facility, Gravity Worx is pretty legit. The routes change regularly, and there's up to 200 running at any one time, with difficulty levels to suit everyone from rank amateur to Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible II. There's even 16 auto-belayers on standby, if you can't rustle up a spotting partner. Gravity Worx runs regular in-house comps, and is more than happy to host big groups, school classes, and bday parties.
Did you hear? Melbourne just got its very own Ninja Warrior obstacle course.
Image credit: Northside Boulders