Formerly known as Vertical World, the downtown bouldering gym Climb Tacoma is looking more and more like an extension of Puget Sound’s outdoorsy on-campus community.
On any given weekday afternoon, you’d be hard-pressed not to spot at least one Puget Sound student decompressing on the climbing walls after a long day of class.
Unlike in past years, students’ callouses and toned forearms are no longer the byproducts of Edgeworks’ advanced climbing routes; Climb Tacoma is now flourishing due to its routes, which cater to climbers of every experience level, and its affordable membership at $35 per month.
As any climber will tell you, climbing is a sport that demands constant practice, especially if you want to master it.
Thus affordability is central to Climb Tacoma’s success, as its appeal has led many former Edgeworks members to shift their allegiances.
“Its atmosphere is great, so is the price—it’s really unbeatable,” said senior Jared Soares.
The gym’s employees are also worthy of note, as their service is always friendly and genuinely enthusiastic.
Although Climb Tacoma is a relatively small gym, both of its rooms offer unique challenges as they undergo new route changes every two weeks or so, much to the delight of the gym’s most frequent climbers.
One room is clearly designed with beginners in mind, featuring a treadmill, free weights, a pull-up bar and some short, basic routes consisting of no more than eight or so moves.
The other larger room has longer and more challenging moves that force climbers to go horizontal, stretch or leap in order to complete routes.
It almost goes with out saying that Climb Tacoma’s primary downside is its location—without regular access to a vehicle, students would have to rely on Pierce County’s bus system to reach the gym, which is about as reliable as a politician.
Thus for some, the Fieldhouse’s bouldering gym may be a more convenient option, but certainly not a better value.
As sophomore Will Peil noted, “The entrance fee [$20] isn’t worth it because it’s hard to finish a route without dropping down onto the rock floor and stubbing your toes.”
Recently, to the particular intrigue of drinking-age climbers, Climb Tacoma began hosting occasional climbing film showings for its members, complete with a full keg of beer.
Often, the films are independently made documentaries featuring esteemed climbers—one documented Alex Honald as he miraculously completed three of Yosemite’s most challenging rock faces all without a harness.
The gym keeps its members updated via Facebook, where events such as the film showings are advertised and new routes are shown off to its supporters.
Although Climb Tacoma may not be the most proximal climbing gym to campus, Puget Sound students will, by and large, tell you that it is the most wholesome climbing experience to be found in Tacoma.