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Rock climbing — fun, challenging, and most importantly, a ridiculously good workout. Scaling a tough climbing route is like playing a jigsaw puzzle; you’re strengthening your muscles and your mind. Plus, nothing beats that triumphant feeling at the top.
Unfortunately, getting outside to climb isn’t always an option. Luckily, DC has more than a few spots for climbing year-round. If you’re new or a little rusty, hit up the open climbs or sign up for classes and learn to belay. If you’re a climbing pro, enjoy the variety of crazy courses, tricky routes, and crack all the walls this city has to offer.
Limitless top rope courses, a couple of crack routes (a climb following a crack up to the top), and cardio and strength training areas will keep you busy at Vertical Rock Indoor Climbing Center in Manassas. In addition to their beginners’ "Learn the Ropes" instruction course, Vertical Rock offers "Intro to Bouldering" and a weekly slack-line night for those looking to experience other adrenaline kicks in the climbing world. Looking to take your skill to the next level? Check out their intermediate/advanced courses on lead climbing.
Grab hold of one of the tallest climbing walls in the Mid Atlantic at Sportrock in Alexandria and Sterling. This is the place to visit for awesome year-round climbing. Sportrock Climbing Center offers outdoor walls for climbing in the sunny months, as well as indoor walls for when the weather gets cold. The gym also has rope courses and bouldering areas along with cardio equipment and weights to supplement your climbing.
When you’re in the capital, you might as well go big. Earth Treks in Rockville boasts the largest indoor climbing wall in the US — over 38,000 square feet of climbing areas. Other perks include multiple crack climbs and an adjustable training wall where you can change up the angles. That may sound intimidating, but Earth Treks—which has gyms not only in Rockville but Crystal City and Columbia—is a hub for climbers of all levels. They offer plenty of training courses when the outdoor climbing season begins; from "Intro to Rock Climbing" to a weekend road trip to West Virginia and an Instructor’s Development Seminar, there’s always an adventure right around the corner here.
A smaller and more intimate gym, this YMCA on W St. offers 1,600 square feet of indoor climbing terrain, including slopes and overhangs. Swing by for the Learn the Ropes course to grab hold of the sport, or join the Open Climb in the evenings, Monday through Thursday, and mornings Friday through Sunday. If you have the YMCA Belay certification, you can join the Supervised Climb to hit the wall with experienced climbers.
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