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Stoneworks Climbing Gym
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Stoneworks GymWhat’s to Love:  This is our third update to our first visit way back in 2007. Stoneworks continues to grow by adding  bunch of new climbing, auto belays, and a “highball” bouldering area with walls up to 20 feet high. This is perhaps the friendliest gym you’ll visit on your quest to get pumped up. In addition, Stoneworks offers excellent instruction, unpretentious, and no attitude whatsoever from fellow climbers.  If you and your kids have never climbed before, Stoneworks Gym is an excellent place to learn the basics!

IMG_1202Stoneworks was built in 1993 and after 19 years, it remains in the same location.  They obviously know what makes a business successful, and it’s evident when you spend time there climbing.  The walls might not be as high as other gyms in the Portland area; however, Stoneworks does so many things well that the sum of its parts might elevate the “whole experience” above other gyms.  I’ll let you decide that for yourselves when you visit.

IMG_1199The walls are plenty high for most people (highest wall is 35 feet), but kids will not be as intimidated here.  It is realistic for small children to “top-out” (i.e., reach the top) on several climbs in the gym.  Your kids will enjoy bouldering above some very large crash pads (see picture), and there are plenty of cave-like areas to explore.

For those of you with kids more serious about climbing, Stoneworks usually has anywhere from 100 to 125 routes (top ropes and boulder problems) ready to climb.  They pack an incredible amount of climbing into a relatively small space.

March, 2014 video clip:

January 2012 video clip:

IMG_1204Caveats:  Just like other climbing and bouldering businesses, the climbs are designed mostly for older kids and adults.  At most gyms, there is limited climbing for kids between 3 – 6 years old.

The amenities are a bit scant for families.  I would bring your own water/drink bottles and snacks.  They’re okay with bringing outside food.  There is an upstairs sitting area where you can eat your snacks.

Ratings? Instead of chasing grades, Stoneworks wants climbers to focus on climbing as a fun activity. Therefore, you won’t find climbs rated with 5. (insert difficulty here). Instead, the climbs are color coded within a range of easiest to most difficult.  When you’re visiting, look for the “rating wheel” for a visual explanation.

WebsiteStoneworks Climbing website

Distance from Portland:  Within 10 miles of downtown Portland.  Here is a Google Map.

Recommended Ages: My son started bouldering very young (I think he was around 18 months or so).  I took him roped climbing when he was 3 – it was a bit too young, because he was a bit freaked-out by the height.  If you have a pretty athletic kid, age 5 seems a good time to introduce roped climbing.  Older kids and teens will probably enjoy climbing. The highball bouldering area is ages 18 and up.

Parental Stress Factor:  I think it was a slow night when we first visited Stoneworks.  I have a feeling that it gets very busy and probably a bit cramped.  On our second visit, we got there right when they opened on Saturday (check hours here) and it wasn’t crowded at all.  During the week, the staff suggests coming in right when they open at 4PM, if you have first-timers.  A busy rock climbing gym can be pretty stressful.  It’s hard for small children to understand the proper etiquette around climbing.

Physical Difficulty:  Hard!  Climbing is not an easy sport.  It takes a lot of strength and endurance to do it well.

Family Fun Factor:  Indoor climbing is probably not the best family activity.  Because you’ll really need to keep a close eye on your kids, you may not have as much fun as you’d like.  It’s a great 1-1 activity for parents and children.

Pet Friendly:  No pets.

Weather Considerations:  Indoor climbing is the perfect winter/rainy day activity!

IMG_1213Insider Info:  Stoneworks has an youth climbing team – their brochure says they have “…THE BEST junior climbing team in the country!”  If your kid is a natural and you live in the area, you may want to talk to their staff about getting your kid on the team.  The age range for the team is 9 – 19. I have to say that Stoneworks’ competitions are some of my very favorites!

You can also rent the gym for birthday parties with up to 10 kids.  It’s only $100, which includes private use of the gym, rock shoes and harnesses.  To me, that’s an incredible deal!

IMG_1212Family Tips: In the world of climbing, I think one of the worst things you can do as a parent is force kids to stay on a climb when they are scared or intimidated by heights.  Just let them come down when they’re ready, and then say to them, “Do you want to try to go one hold higher next time?”  Point to where they got on the climb and make a new goal for them.  This works much better, because they get used to going up and down.  Climbing is something that you can do for most of your adult life.  If kids get exposed to it in a positive way, they might do it on and off for the rest of their lives.

Talk to their staff about the appropriate climbs for your kids.  They have a good handle on the routes in the gym, and they can get you off to a good start.  Definitely start with a route that will build confidence!  You don’t want to demoralize your kids on their first climb.

Technorati Tags: Stoneworks, climbing, gym, indoor, rock, bouldering, Beaverton, kids

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  1. What a great place! AND what a fabulous climber – very athletic.

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