Love extreme sports? Read the NY times article below to find out about the latest extreme sport to enter the borough of Brooklyn.
Climbing the Walls in Brooklyn
YOU are hanging onto plastic knobs a dozen feet off the ground in an old Daily News garage in Brooklyn. Music pumps, and crowds of people cheer. But if you close your eyes for a moment, you might imagine you’re hundreds of feet up, hanging off a cliff in Yosemite National Park.
Since opening last fall, Brooklyn Boulders, an 18,000-square-foot gym in the former garage in Gowanus, has become a destination for New York rock climbers of all levels. The colorful urban space — graffiti-style art decks the walls — is usually packed with people of all ages. You can rent a full set of equipment for $10 a day — a crotch-hugging harness, tight-fitting shoes and a bag of chalk for your hands — and climb for $20 a day. (Beyond the basics, there are lessons for $60 and children’s summer camps, among other offerings.)
Climbing is a physical challenge that will tone arms like few other activities, but it is also an art form in which graceful, fluid movements can make even beginners look like spiders dancing on intricate webs. Indoor climbing provides a quick dose of the sport, which often requires hours of time outdoors. For city folk, rock gyms offer the training and practice needed to hit the cliffs on weekends. And some people never climb outside, preferring the relative safety of indoors.
Some of the best climbers in New York can be spotted on the gym’s bouldering walls, where they climb without ropes. This sort of climbing is lower to the ground; falling climbers land on soft, flexible pads. Expect to be humbled by their exploits.
For those who prefer ropes, more than 40 of them have been set up. You step into a harness and you tie on a rope that runs the full height of the wall, nearly 29 feet in some places. As you reach for one hold after another, a partner or member of the gym staff on the ground pulls the rope along, providing support only when you fall or want to rest. Climbers follow trails of tape up the wall to figure out where to go; routes are labeled to indicate difficulty. At the top, you sit back with your weight on the rope, and your partner lowers you. (The gym requires partners to pass a rope-handling test.)
Other gyms with rock walls, like Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, are pricier. Brooklyn Boulders was founded by three New York climbers — Jeremy Balboni, Lance Pinn and Stephen Spaeth — who were friends at Babson College in Massachusetts and wanted a more affordable option for climbing in the city. Part of their goal is to be a hub of research on climbing, and they built the gym’s floor mats, walls and structures from scratch.
Two new walls, Zig-Zag Wall and the Beast, add several routes to tackle. There is also a tightrope for those who want to practice their balancing acts. Good balance, of course, is helpful for scaling giant rocks and the gym’s climbing walls here.
The gym’s founders like to say they are striving for “global domination.” That might be a high ambition, but for now they are helping regular people defy gravity with little more than their fingertips.
WHERE 575 Degraw Street, at Third Avenue, Gowanus.
CONTACT (347) 834-9066 or brooklynboulders.com.
WHEN Sunday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to midnight. Rope handling classes daily at 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m.