There has been a recent explosion of bouldering gyms around Sydney, and having climbed at each of them, let me tell you why I travel one hour each way to get to the gym I chose. It’s in Lane Cove, and it’s called 9 Degrees (note the chica sending on the logo).
May I present: 7 Reasons I Chose My Bouldering Gym
1. The vibe
Smiles, smiles smiles everywhere. Never have I ever been to a place where smiles reigned currency. Entering the climbing gym you get smiles from the staff who recognise you from your last sesh, smiles from peeps standing sharing beta, from the girl just landed on the crash mat, and even the dog gives a goofy grin. The feeling this gives is one of inclusivity, hospitality, and like you can ask anyone how the heck to send that particular problem you have been staring at for five minutes. The music also bolsters the atmosphere, depending on the day, some trashy R&B, some thrashy rock, or just the smooth sounds of Phil Collins. It all gets you in the mood, and in the zone to climb baby.
2. The space
This place is huge. Like aeroplane hangar huge. Climbing in January in a Sydney summer you have a sweat mustache before you even enter the gym, but with the hanger ceilings, industrial fans and dog-leg airflow coming to this place, it is a summer sanctuary. Amongst the positively glorious breeze the gym hosts a ramped disabled toilet, a small weight rack and a pull up bar, a cafe, and even a floor-to-ceiling Climbing Anchors mini store so you can stock up on chalk, a new pair of shoes, or even grab a rope for the weekend climb.
3. New Routes Every Wednesday
Each week a section is changed and fresh routes are put up. This is great for two reasons. Firstly you get to try new problems each week, which pushes you to bigger and better things. Secondly it creates a sense of urgency for you to try and complete a project, if you are in fact projecting a route. If you don’t get it, it might be gone the next time around!
4. Online Videos
This is particularly handy for beginners. When learning about climbing, you are learning a new visual slash movement-based language. Learning how to move your body in particular ways, how to watch people move their bodies in particular ways, and then how to mimic those movements. If your bunch of friends are at the same level as you, it is hard to conceptualise new harder projects and then send them. The videos that 9 Degrees puts up makes giving a new harder route a go a lot easier!
5. The Community
I went climbing on a Saturday morning by myself. It was the first time that I’ve done this and I knew to make progress there are times I need to get to the gym and just train, volume and consistency being the two biggest factors to see improvement as a novice. The problem is: when you climb by yourself you don’t have someone shouting beta about that sneaky hold to your left, nor do you have that same person demonstrating moves. I was on a blue problem (9 Degrees has a colour grade system) and was getting stuck. I walked over to a group of six people I asked if they had done this problem before, a guy said he can show me the moves.
He revealed the problem and stood watching while I attempted it. I took me three goes, then he suggested I lean over my foot in a particular way for me to stick it. I stuck it. I love this bouldering gym because people are super friendly, always keen to take time out of their own training to help you, and are genuinely interested in seeing you improve. Go Team!
Yes, coffee snobs rejoice. 9 Degrees knows happy taste buds lead to high psych. Rich aroma, great body and slightly tangy. Pour my shot over some ice cream and call me flash.
7. The free stuff
First visit to the climbing gym? They shout you a free shoe hire. Don’t have chalk? They’ve got your hands covered. Bandaids, tissues, tape, scissors, files. All kindly provided by these wonderful peeps. The etiquette is you should really have your own set of all of the above, but when you’ve run out of something, gosh it’s handy to be able to tape that flapper so it doesn’t end your climbing session.
9 Degrees sings to me for these reasons. It’s important to find a space which you connect with, it will definitely help motivate you to get there, because you’ll always feel just brilliant when you do! Happy Climbing.