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TORONTO’S BEST INDOOR ROCK CLIMBING GYMS

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JOHN SANDHAM

JUL 14, 2020

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IMAGE VIA @TRUENORTHCLIMBING | INSTAGRAM

Go back 20, even a decade, and you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a couple of climbing gyms in Toronto. Today, it's a whole different landscape. The city is home to some of the country’s biggest and best climbing spots, allowing Torontonians to reach new heights year-round. Grab some chalk, and get a grip at these Toronto area indoor climbing gyms.

Joe Rockhead’s in Liberty Village opened in 1990 as Canada’s first indoor climbing gym, and it still offers some of the best top rope routes around. Even better, their routes never overlap, meaning your section of the wall is just for you. Try your hand at bouldering, top-roping, or lead-climbing that this Canadian institution with a reputation for innovation. This place also offers in-depth three-hour lessons for beginners that include shoe and harness rentals to get you started.

Bouldering—free climbing—is what you’ll find at this Mississauga gym. With over 120 problems to choose from and weekly resets, you shouldn’t have any issues finding something new with each visit. During your time off the wall, stay in peak climbing shape with Up The Bloc's conditioning classes. Up The Bloc also offers joint memberships with Joe Rockhead’s. It’s the best of both worlds — rope climbing downtown at one location, bouldering in the suburbs at the other.

This gym turns heads not only for its stellar climbing options, but also for the history of the building it’s set up in: a former adult movie theatre. Of course, this means high ceilings, perfect for top rope and lead climbers. Right next to Christie subway station, Basecamp honours its building’s history with the names it gives some of its 100+ routes — past examples include “6 to Midnight” and “The Reach Around”. Good news is that the building was thoroughly sanitized before transitioning to its current use.

Boulderz has two locations west of downtown (Junction Triangle and Etobicoke) that are equally worth checking out. The name says it all: both locations prioritize bouldering over rope climbing (while there is some rope climbing available!) and feature new problems each week. Fitt Tip: if you’re hoping to make like Spider-Man but need to strengthen your arm muscles first, both spots have workout areas with hang boards and pull-up bars to help you get there.

On the other side of downtown in Parkview Hills, Toronto Climbing Academy is another one of the city’s indoor climbing pioneers. Opened in ’93, this facility makes it easy for you to get your climb on, even if you don’t have a climbing buddy. Simply follow the link on their website to Climbfind, a networking site that allows you to search for climbing partners willing to trade belaying duties. Whether you choose to conquer the bouldering and top-out climbing on your or with a pal, you're sure to find an adventure with each climb.

Like its name suggests, True North Climbing is north of the city in Downsview Park. This means it can afford to be larger than some of the more centrally-located gyms, and this translates into 12,000 square feet of indoor climbing bliss. True North has the largest offering of top-rope and lead climbing in the Toronto area. Want more reasons to make the trek up here? True North is home to the world’s largest climbable indoor stalactite. And if that isn’t enough, they also provide two slacklines for you to try your hand (feet?) at.

Find your paradise at The Rock Oasis. This climbing gym is a perfect place for those looking to meet climbing partners and also for those who want to climb alone. With eight auto belay stations for the solo climbers as well as a “ISO Climbing Partners” night each Monday at 7pm at their Toronto location, there’s something for everyone here. Rather workout after your evening commute? Check out their second location in the Ajax Community Centre, east of town.

As both the largest bouldering facility in Canada and Ontario’s largest climbing gym, Hub Climbing in Markham and Mississauga is guaranteed to make even the most hardcore climbing aficionados salivate. A day pass to either massive facility only costs $20 and includes yoga classes, so you can go from upward climb to downward dog in a matter of minutes. For members, there’s also a fitness studio, making it a true climber’s paradise.

Built in 2015 for the Toronto Pan Am and Parapan American Games, this sports centre offers state-of-the-art recreational activities for anyone seeking an adrenaline rush. Stop by for a drop-in climb every Monday at 4pm, where you can rent belaying equipment on site, with a lesson included. Once you’re climbed out, try out TPASC’s other facilities like pickleball, group fitness, and underwater hockey games.

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