Scaling the Heights Without Leaving Town

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Have you ever aspired to scale the summit of Mount Everest or Mount Kilimanjaro but have not been able to tear yourself away from work? Have you ever dreamed about climbing El Capitan in Yosemite or wanted an exhilarating alternative workout different from anything you have ever experienced? 

Regardless of whether you are seven or 97 years old, Sportrock Climbing Center lets you live out your fantasy of being a great climber without fear of falling.  Everyone climbing the Sportrock walls is harnessed in and belayed (for the inexperienced, that means that the climber is attached to someone else by a rope in case they slip).  The climbing walls are much closer than Everest, Kilimanjaro or El Capitan because they can be found right here in Alexandria. Located at 5308 Eisenhower Ave., the climbing facility is easily accessible by Metro as well as interstates 395 and 495.

The 12,000 square foot complex provides many different types of walls to climb and is open seven days a week.  The walls reach as high as 40 feet, ranging from vertical to overhanging, with varying degrees of difficulty.  In addition to climbing, you can supplement your workout with a yoga class that is offered four times a week.  No climbing partner?  No problem. Sportrock has three auto belays, which are automatic braking systems that slowly lower you to the ground after you have climbed the wall.

We have a wide variety of people who like to climb here.  There are experienced climbers who use the facility to train for their outdoor excursions, and we have members who use the gym as an alternative workout rather then using the same old cardio equipment, said Gym Director Angi Raub.  We also have childrens programs such as Kids Nite and birthday parties.  In fact, our Junior Team season kicked off in September.  Raub continued, During the week, we are open until 11 p.m. so many people drop by on the way home from a long day at the office. There is a great sense of community among the members at the gym so this is a great place to unwind with friends while getting a great workout at the end of a long day.

Getting started is easy.  The best way to learn to climb is to sign up for a Basic Skills class or the Quick Start Program. Sportrock provides all of the necessary climbing gear including the helmet and shoes. After the course, even a first-time climber can begin scaling the walls immediately after they are trained.

Another surprising aspect of the indoor climbing gym is that Sportrock will literally move mountains for you.  If your school or company is having a party, Sportrock can bring their portable 20-foot climbing wall to your event, which they haul to your site on a trailer. Three climbers can scale the portable wall at the same time; Sportrock provides several experienced climbing staff to help the typically novice climbers ascend the portable wall.

Children of all ages find that Sportrock is also a fabulous place to have a birthday party. The complex even has a party room — complete with a mural of Yosemites Half Dome — overlooking the climbing walls.   Recently, Joe (not his real name), now 8 years old, had his birthday party at Sportrock. He commented afterwards, I didnt want to stop climbing for cake because it was so much fun. I really like the walls that bend out. One of the children at the party said, I think that climbing the wall here makes me feel like Spiderman without a mask.  Similarly, Peter Ward hosted a group of teenage friends at Sportrock and maintains that it was the best birthday party Id ever had.

Regardless of your age or fitness level, climbing at Sportrock is a blast even if you dont want to feel like Spiderman or Sir Edmund Hilary.

For more information, go to www.sportrock.com or call 703-212-7625. Sportrock is located approximately 200 feet from the Van Dorn Metro Station.  Details and rates for parties are available on the website. Hours are noon to 11 p.m. Monday Friday and 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. on weekends. The rental rates for gear are reasonable with the complete package costing only $9. Climbing prices range from $7 for children to up to $18 for adults, but there are discounted passes available for multiple visits.

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