I don’t really know how to start this other than to say that Vertical Rock was absolutely awesome. Just so much fun. Any age, any level, any ability, your family can have fun doing this. If your child is old enough to try to scale your bookshelves or the kitchen pantry, they can rock climb.
I know that trying a completely new activity at a completely new place can be intimidating, so here’s how it works.
1) Enter the address (10225 Nokesville Rd, Manassas, VA 20110) into your GPS/Garmin/iPhone.
2) Follow directions
That’s really it. Everything else that you need is taken care of. Get a day pass and climb all you want for $18 (adults), $16 (students), or $12 (military). You’ll need your own equipment, or you can rent what you’ll need ($11 for everything). Alternatively, if you’re new, you can try it out for $20, which includes your harness, 3 climbs ($5 for each additional) and a Vertical Rock belayer to help you figure it all out. For $35 you can take their “Learn the Ropes” course, during which you’ll learn how to top-rope, how to “tie in”, and how to belay safely for your partner. Classes are drop-in and offered Monday-Friday from 6-8pm and Sundays from 3-5.
Really love it? You don’t need a Bally’s membership- you can join Vertical Rock as your gym! In addition to climbing, they have a fitness room, and offer “Rock Ready” (which looks a lot like the class that rhymes with “Boss Bit”), Krav Maga, Yoga, and a host of other fun stuff to keep you in shape without relying solely on a treadmill, which, let’s be honest, is boring.
We did an open climb, and the one thing I’ll say is that you should spring for the $5 to rent shoes. They’re sexy like bowling shoes:
But they are SO MUCH EASIER to climb in. Seriously. I was informed that if “they’re not tight, they’re not right” so don’t hop up a size because your toes are giving each other a bear hug.
Next, our friendly belayers helped us get into our harnesses. One thing I didn’t know about rock climbing is how fashionable it is 😉
Yesssss! Work it! Work it!
So now you head to the walls. Courses are rated with cards (and they have funny names like “I should be with my mommy right now” or “Fried Squirrel Brains”). They start at 5.5, or as I like to call it “That sounds about right” and move up to 5.10, which then get letters after them. Obviously the higher you go the more difficulty is involved. The idea is to follow the tape color for the course you’re doing. Some specify that you can use “any feet” which means that you can use an of the grips you can get your hoofs on, and others want you to just use the color you’re following. Rock climbing involves a good deal of thinking when you add those caveats- you have to check where you are and think about where you’re going- I was surprised the first time I climbed myself into a corner and had to back up and think about how to approach where I was going!
This is the wall that Logan, Savannah, and I started on. It has about a bijillion grips on it, and you can “climb the rainbow” and pick anything you want. Here’s where the staff really came in. Logan got to this point (above) and was like “Yup, I’m scared and I’m done” and Zack, our belayer, was like “Yeah, totally hear that buddy- just touch that green one first” and by the time he did that, he realized he was just a few “rocks” from the brown section…..
And well, then it was just a few hand grips to the green spongy thing….and at that point, you may as well touch the top. He was too nervous to rappel down the side, which I get, because it’s a big exercise in trust to have someone you just met tell you to let go of the wall and trust them to not drop you. Especially when you’re 8. He climbed down slowly, but surely. However, he did rappel on his last climb of the day, which was great!
We had a few tears on the harder wall- somebody made the mistake of looking down. (I climbed to the top of this one- but I didn’t look anywhere but the place I was currently at- I probably would’ve cried, too!) but, again, the belayers did a great job of providing direction and assured us that they’ve had to climb up before to help someone down, but they didn’t have to.
The minute his feet touched the floor, he asked to go up again. I guess Belayer Anna did a good job 🙂
In addition to open climbs and classes and memberships, Vertical Rock also offers a kids night, birthday parties, climbing teams (Team meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 530-730! VR hosts competitions and travels to other gyms to participate in competitions), indoor and outdoor camps, scout merit badges, LOCK INS(!!!), corporate events and outdoor climbing tours. There’s also a bouldering wall if you really want to climb but not quite so high:
Best part about their kids night is that you don’t have to reserve (although you can) so you can just be like “It’s Friday night and my kids are making me crazy!! Vertical Rock!” and drop them off from 7-9pm for $25 for Non Members and $15 For Members, Safety equipment included. I am informed that the kids “come home tired”, which is just what I like to hear 🙂
If you’d like to give your child a chance to try Rock Climbing, but aren’t ready to strap in yourself, check out the Vertical Rock Summer camps!
Disclosure: Vertical Rock is a sponsor of PwcMoms and allowed us to come climb. However, all opinions and experiences are true and my own. If I had looked down, I think I would’ve cried- and I really do think the ugly shoes make it way easier. #TrueStory.