Indoor Rock Climbing
Locations in Southbay, Riverside, and Upland
Company: Anyone who wants to try a new (and addictive activity). Those afraid of heights need not apply.
Cost: $16 for a day pass (doesn't include gear); $50 for a monthly membership (includes gear)
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OTC Tip: College students (with a valid ID) can get a monthly pass for $35
Yes, I know indoor rock climbing isn't the same thing as outdoor climbing, but it's still a blast - and much easier to partake in. There are three locations in SoCal - I've been climbing at the Southbay facility with no complaints.
If you have no clue how to climb, or what a belay is and/or does, have no fear. With a monthly pass comes a free intro lesson. (You can also buy training separately with a day pass). The instructor will teach you basic knot tying techniques, climbing terms, and how to safely get down from the top of the wall.
For those of you who have no clue how indoor climbing works, it's pretty simple. Each wall has color-coded holds, which are marked off by a rating system (5.7, 5.8, etc.). The number after the decimal indicates the degree of difficulty of the climb - higher the number, harder the climb. Hard can mean that there are very few holds, or that they are small and hard to grip, or a combination of the two. Some walls have inverted sections, while others require the climber to utilize multiple walls. And yes, each wall is already set with a rope to allow a buddy to belay you. In fact, some walls have self-assisting belays set up, so you can climb completely solo. Whatever your skill level, Hangar 18 has climbs for you.
There are also a large number of bouldering walls. Bouldering is basically the act of climbing low (but often inverted) walls without the aid of a rope. Should the climber fall, there are mats below to break the (short) fall.
OTC TIP: While Hangar 18 provides basic climbing training, they didn't give any insight on technique. And knowing a thing or two will definitely make your climbing experience more enjoyable. As cool and fun as it is to do "Cliffhanger" type jump-and-grabs, it is the dumb way to climb. Focus on using your legs as much as possible. If you have to pause, make sure your arms are as low as possible, to keep the blood flowing (don't have them extended high above your head).
Regarding the fact that you are relatively high off of the ground, don't worry. After the first few climbs, you won't even realize that you are two stories off the ground. Trust me. Maybe...