07 Apr Gym Guide – Alaska Rock Gym – Anchorage, AK
As might be evident by now, one of my favorite things to do when traveling, is to visit local gyms and check out the climbing scene. In the Summer of 2015, I spent two weeks in and around Anchorage, Alaska, where rumors were flying about a new climbing gym in the works. At the time, I was able to visit the existing Alaska Rock Gym (ARG), and though this was a smaller, older facility, I still found myself impressed by the creative use of space, very fun setting, and welcoming environment. It really left me eager to see what the ARG team could do with a brand new facility!
This April, I got my chance to check it out, and well…they done good! 😉
Facility: The new ARG is a beautiful, state of the art gym, with 24,000 square feet of climbing terrain and fitness equipment. The walls were designed by Entreprises Climbing Walls and encompass a great variety of features, from steep overhang, to slab, to crack. There are also designated speed climbing areas and group class areas. The roped walls reach 43′, while bouldering maxes out at 15′ and includes both top out and down climb sections.
Besides climbing, the gym offers hang boards, a system board, fitness and training machines, a yoga studio with yoga and fitness classes, as well as a gear/rental shop. ARG is pretty much a one-stop-fitness-shop, making it a great facility for groups, couples, and families.
Getting Started: As with most gyms, on your first visit, you can expect the usual waivers, day passes, and new climber safety orientations. Though I was alone and only able to boulder, first time rope climbers will also have to take top rope and lead belay tests, which can be done with any UIAA approved belay device.
Climbing: I’m a sucker for tall walls and endurance based routes, so the ARG roped area definitely left me salivating a bit! The routes looked so fun! But I was traveling alone and hadn’t even bothered to pack a harness, so unfortunately I couldn’t do much more than stare and hope I’d have an opportunity to come back for another visit soon.
However, I wasn’t left empty-handed. ARG’s bouldering area looked pretty fantastic as well! ARG has an entire floor dedicated to bouldering, allowing for a lot of terrain and a great variety of route setting. One thing that particularly stood out for me, was the technical aspect of the setting. Over the entire range of grades that I climbed (V0-V8) I thought the setting encouraged the use of creativity and technique, vs pure strength. This is something I appreciate as I think it lends itself to creating better, more well rounded climbers. The grades overall seemed consistent, and a bit harder than my usual gyms down in SoCal. This is a good thing though, as it feels more comparable to outdoor grades.
My only concern throughout the day at ARG, was that it felt like a lot of people ran under me while I climbed. This could have just been bad timing as I was there during a string of kids classes and climbing teams, but it happened enough times that I thought maybe this is a rule that needed to be enforced more strongly.
Otherwise, I loved everything about my experience at the Alaska Rock Gym. From the friendly staff, to the beautiful facility, to the excellent climbing. I’d definitely recommend a visit to anybody traveling through the Anchorage area.
If you’d like more information about this gym, check them out here.