Wednesday, March 26, 2014

An Inside-Outside Weekend - Part I

Part Un - The Inside Weekend.

The L.A. Weather has lately been great for any outdoor activities, and last weekend was no exception, but on Saturday, we were bound to spend it indoors.

Had this corner to ourselves.. almost all day.
Santa Cruz cousin, who recently went full forced in pursuing climbing when she moved to Santa Cruz, was in town for a family visit and with a handful of text messages and phone calls, she managed to convince her bike-every-weekend brother (Chris), to cancel the Saturday morning bike ride to get in early and avoid any weekend crowd to a climbing gym she had found previously in downtown L.A. Having only been to a climbing gym once and liked it but never got around to going back to one by myself, I tagged along to their little excursion.

In condition to Chris' agreement to cancel the bike ride and try climbing, he's only willing to climb with ropes and harness attached to him. Reading up on the climbing gym we were originally headed to, it seems to be more focused on bouldering. Scrambling to find an alternative on the morning of, we found Stronghold Climbing Gym in the eastern side of Los Angeles. We were first skeptical if this gym exists at all, as it only comes up on Yelp and not even on Google maps for directions, had to type in the address. We found out soon enough after arriving why it was so. They barely opened about 2 weeks ago, according to the gentleman behind the front counter, who was helping us.

Address, Directions and Parking

The Stronghold Climbing Gym
650 S. Avenue 21,
Los Angeles, CA 90031

To get an idea, the area they are located in has several landmarks. Within the 1 mile radius, they are surrounded by Lincoln Park (East), the L.A. County/ General Hospital on the (SE), and the San Antonio Winery (a block or 2 to their West).

Coming from the West side along Main St., turn right onto Avenue 21 (East turn Left). You'll see a giant Horse sculpture on the corner. Do not be discouraged by the black metal fence that's missing an actual gate, keep going along Avenue 21, and from this point on you'll see several parking spaces on both sides of the street, pick a spot and continue to walk beyond the black gate straight to the gym's front door. Parking beyond the gate is for resident artists only of The Brewery.

Also, there are bike racks located by the gym's front door.

Rates and other 4-1-1's

  • Day Pass is $20
  • Shoes rental - $4
  • Harness rental - $2
  • Chalk bag rental - $2
  • Packaged Equipment Rental is $5 (including harness, chalk bag, shoes..)
As soon as you walk in through their front door, you'll notice several iPad minis installed to your left. If you haven't filled out and signed their waiver before you came over, the tablets are there for you to do so. We arrived there just a bit after they opened, plus they're quite newly opened, so the waiver station was empty and we breezed through it. But one can tell that this joint will be popular soon enough, so I'd suggest filling up a waiver before arriving. All participants must fill this out. As always, if a minor is participating, a parent or legal guardian must sign for the minor.

After filling out the waiver, go ahead and walk over to the counter ahead of you to pay your dues and pick up rentals, if you need any.

There are a lot of cubbyholes available to stash your stuff in, installed alongside the wall between the doors to the Men's and Women's bathrooms, past the front counter. You won't miss 'em - they're painted in a lovely red!

They've got a couple of shower stalls in the women's locker room (not sure about the men's - didn't get to check! On hindsight tho... haha). There are more lockers (with locks! Don't need to bring your own) located in here, too. Do completely read the instructions first, if you're unfamiliar on how to operate those types of lockers, they're posted.


Their bouldering routes can be found on the front part of the facility. From mid way, all the way to the back, you'll find the top rope climbs (they've got lots!).

I think this newbie, (me!) has gotten enough free taste of this climbing situation to seriously take a formal class to climbing. Don't get me wrong, the cousin was really awesome in teaching.. knots, harness, safety, commands. But she lives too far from me and consistency is the key. Good thing I found out, Stronghold Climbing does Intro to Climbing classes every Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 12:00 p.m. for $35, but free for members.

This way I could get certified to belay at this gym, too! Win-win!

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