By Lee Davis
When serious rock climbers are pursuing their passion, they normally need to find the proper venue and hope the weather cooperates.
Soon, they’ll only have to go to Inverness and the weather won’t be a factor.
That’s because a High Point Climbing Gym franchise at 4766 U.S. 280 will hold its official grand opening in December. The gigantic indoor facility will offer bouldering, rope climbing, speed climbing, kids’ rooms and all types of climbing-related activities suited for skill levels ranging from experienced climbers to first-timers. An outdoor climbing set-up is also featured. Training for climbers is available, and climbing gear is provided on site.
There are two High Point facilities in the Chattanooga area. The Birmingham location is the first expansion outside the area.
“We felt that Birmingham was underserved for climbing facilities,” said Ben Lowe, the communication coordinator for High Point. “There’s really not anything quite like this anywhere nearby. We’ve gotten tremendous positive feedback from the public so far.”
High Point is far more than a climbing facility. The gym also offers a full cardiovascular exercise room and a weight-lifting area. There are even yoga classes available.
“People can come to High Point and get a full workout,” Lowe said. “We have much of the same fitness equipment that any traditional gym might have. We really see the climbing aspect as part of an overall fitness program. Too often, people can get bored and burn out if they do the same fitness routine repeatedly. By adding climbing into a workout, it’s much more difficult to get into a rut.”
Lowe said that indoor climbing has become a popular new recreation option.
“Climbing is obviously very different from playing sports such as football, baseball or basketball,” he said. “It’s a great way for folks to hang out with their friends socially and at the same time get a serious workout.”
And while most might associate climbing with a younger demographic, Lowe said that climbing is popular with all age groups.
“In Chattanooga, we have regular climbers who are in their mid-70s,” he said. “This is a place to participate for every age group as well as skill level.”
Climbers at High Point are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing that gives them maximum mobility, such as sweat pants or shorts. Climbing shoes are required at all climbing facilities. If guests do not own climbing shoes, they may be rented at the front desk.
Lowe said that High Point makes every effort to ensure a climber’s safety. One way is the use of an auto belaying system to manage the rope of a climber. The belayer can catch a climber’s fall, provide tension on the rope when needed and lower a climber back to the ground.
High Point’s Chattanooga gym has gained national attention. The April 2015 issue of Climbing Magazine described High Point as “the country’s coolest gym.”
While High Point will be new to Birmingham, Lowe said the concept of climbing gyms is nothing new.
“Climbing gyms have been around for about as long as outdoor rock climbing has existed,” he said. “There’s always been a demand for a way to rock climb without having to travel far and plan for outdoor conditions. Some people enjoy both indoor and outdoor climbing and others solely climb indoors.”
Visitors to High Point can purchase memberships or day passes for a reasonable price.
“We’re very excited to be coming to Birmingham,” Lowe said.