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Your friends are all secretly rocking abs. They’re happier, healthier, and rambling on in some nonsensical language about crags and cruxes. They’re physically glowing. What kind of cult have they joined and is it time for me to get involved? That cult is rock climbing and with new, massive facilities popping up all over Sydney, it’s time for you to get involved.
The mecca of indoor climbing in Sydney, SICG at St Peters is the biggest rock climbing gym in the Southern Hemisphere and has some of the tallest walls — from 10 to 16 metres high. There are over 420 routes to choose from, including 120 lead routes. Dream fitout? Absolutely. There are also two separate bouldering sections, a workout space, and a dedicated climbing training area with hangboards and campus boards.
This is the space preferred by those who are only inside a gym to train for bigger and better rocks outdoors. Climb Fit has a good mix of vertical face, slabs, and gnarly overhangs, including a route that takes you along the roof (for those feeling bold). There are several auto-belays, a small but fun bouldering section, and daily gym classes—from yoga to circuit training—included in the price of entry. But the shining light of Climb Fit St Leonards is the staff and the community. If you’re climbing solo or can’t figure out a beta, there will always be someone nearby more than happy to help.
9 degrees is bright, shiny, and accessible for those new to bouldering or seasoned experts. All venues—Lane Cove, Alexandria, and Parramatta—have sleek white walls with vibrant, neon handholds, typically offering European-style climbing and pretty good coffee in their dog-friendly warehouses. The gyms have been praised for their route setting, which leans towards the classic outdoors style rather than more modern parkour or dynamic moves, and the Parramatta and Alexandria facilities even have a MoonBoard to train on.
NOMAD is one of the new kids on the block, and with a central location and pristine facilities, it’s hard to ignore. It’s the largest bouldering facility in the Southern Hemisphere and offers nearly 1,000 square metres of climbing space across vertical faces, slab, and 2D curve walls. There is also a dedicated competition wall, campus board, and a youthful, friendly vibe because of its close proximity to the University of Sydney. NOMAD also gets a notable mention for having vegan-friendly bakery Grumpy Donuts as its neighbour.
The brother gym of the SICG at St Peters, here’s another world-class facility with more than 250 routes, including long-routes and a good selection of lead climbs. It’s also the only climbing gym in Sydney with an international standard speed wall, and there is also a large bouldering area and training space. The downside to the facility is its location, but it’s still a good option for those whose climbing trips to the Blue Mountains have been thwarted by the weather gods.
The Ledge is the smallest and least accessible gym in Sydney via car but a solid option for students or those living in the Inner West. The University of Sydney facility offers a number of short routes, as well as a small bouldering section upstairs. One thing not to miss: the feature wall, which has lots of pockets and ledges that mimic outdoor climbing.
The newer, younger sister of the St Leonards facility, Climb Fit Kirawee is known within the climbing community for over 130 top-roping routes, interchangeable lead climbs, and a small bouldering area, which offers modern, dynamic competition-style bouldering. There is also a sizeable area for fitness training, as well as a hangboard and campus boarding modalities, a kids section, and shiny new changing rooms and showers. The only downside is its distance from the CBD, but it’s a worthwhile mission for climbing fanatics.
The Edge offers a range of top-roping, lead climbing, and bouldering for those living slightly outside Sydney’s centre in the Hills District. Here, there are more than 100 routes for top-rope, as well as 46 bouldering problems and four auto-belays for those solo climbers out there. Its claim to fame is that it has the tallest walls of any gym in Sydney to climb, reaching a towering 18.5 metres for its tallest, with others ranging from eight to 12 metres. The Edge also offers fitness classes and climbing-specific courses for bouldering or lead climbing to help you transition outdoors. Fitt Tip: it is one of Sydney’s smaller facilities, so it can get pretty packed on weekends, as well as Wednesday and Thursday nights.