What’s to Love: For years I’ve been hearing about Club Sport’s giant climbing walls, which are up to 45 feet tall! According to their website, Club Sport’s Adventure Center is the largest climbing facility (11, 500 square feet) in Oregon. The Center offers a nice variety of terrain including bouldering, steep lead climbing, a chimney area, slabs, and some cracks. Until last week, Club Sport’s mega walls have eluded our sending attempts. During our recent visit, we had a pleasant experience highlighted by a clean and open atmosphere featuring outstanding route setting.
Although Club Sport is a private athletic club, the “Adventure Center,” which houses the climbing and bouldering area is open to the public. Non-members are treated just the same as Club Sport members, so don’t worry about feeling out of place. If you’re new to climbing, they offer a variety of programs to help get you started with the basics and beyond.
Because the climbing area opens-up into the larger Club Sport entryway, the entire climbing space feels spacious and barrier-free. It’s also easy to keep your eye on your kids from many different areas of the gym including an upstairs area above the bouldering.
What impressed me the most about the climbing was the route setting itself. I was climbing with many people the day of my visit, and several commented on the “flow” of the routes. Indeed, I found that the routes were sustained, challenging, and the moves just made sense to me. As I powered through crux areas, I found myself not thinking as much about where to put my feet and hands. Naturally, as I moved, the holds appeared and facilitated fluid motion.
Caveats: If you’re a non-member, The Adventure Center has the most expensive climbing in the Portland area ($20 for adults & $12 for ages twelve and under). Make sure your kids stay in designated areas and don’t stray into the Club itself. If you want to look around the club, talk to the main desk about arranging a tour.
The bouldering area is small and the options somewhat limited.
Website: Club Sport Adventure Center
Distance from Portland: It’s only about 12 miles out to the gym from downtown Portland. Here is a Google Map.
Recommended Ages: Climbing is a good sport for all ages and family members! Most definitely, you’ll want to wait until your child can walk and fit into a harness, which for most is around age 3 or 4. It’s a great activity for older kids, especially high school kids and their friends.
Parental Stress Factor: Statistically, climbing is far safer than driving your car, but you’re certainly not going to stop driving. Obviously, there are plenty of risks involved with climbing. The Adventure Center, as well as all climbing gyms in the area, takes safety seriously and does everything they can to minimize the risk involved. However, if you’re new to climbing, there is no doubt in my mind that you’ll be a bit stressed out watching your child dangling from a rope 3o+ feet in the air. To help alleviate that stress, perhaps, you should rope up and join your child!
Physical Difficulty: HARD! Climbing is not easy, especially on your hands and feet. If you don’t have the requisite calloused-hands, your skin will get roughed-up a bit. It can also be hard on finger tendons and forearms, especially if you’re inclined to over-grip (most beginners do). Climbing over 10 feet up the wall will be physically demanding working all kinds of muscles you probably didn’t know existed!
Family Fun Factor: FUN! Climbing is physically and mentally challenging, but it’s also fun and a great sport, especially for kids who don’t feel comfortable with team/group sports like football or baseball. The Center offers plenty of climbing for the whole family (easy, intermediate, and HARD)!
Pet Friendly: N/A
Weather Considerations: Indoor climbing definitely falls under the “great on a rainy day” category. I think because it’s part of a larger health club, the climate control in the facility works exceptionally well. We were very comfortable while climbing.
Check their website for “Kids Climb Time,” which is a supervised climbing event for kids 4 – 18 years with all equipment provided. The Center also has climbing camps during holiday breaks and summer vacation. Give them a call for more information.
Family Tips: Make sure your kids understand the rules of the gym and know how to act when on the floor. While friendly, they did have staff members who walk around and confront kids who are not observing the proper gym behavior. Remember, it’s a climbing gym and safety must be the first priority. The rules are in place to help protect everyone!
Keep food and drink off the main climbing area. It’s okay to bring your own snacks, but if you forgot and don’t have anything to eat, the Club does have a restaurant right above, and next to, the climbing area. Smoothies were a popular selection with the kid-climbers.
The gym is also very close to Bridgeport Village (shopping), REI (outdoor gear), and Whole Foods for getting some food. You’ll see them on the map if you Google.
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Fernhill Park on August 7th, 2010