- Experience walls at SLO Op Climbing
- Get to know Cal Poly Campus’s Climbing Wall
- Try the real thing at Bishop Peak!
San Luis Obispo’s geography is so diverse. Oceans and lakes make the Central Coast a great place for water sports, which i’ve covered a lot in my blog. But what about it’s rolling hills? Or its beautiful boulders? San Luis Obispo is a great place for rock climbing, not only because of the natural access to boulders, but also because there are places like SLO Op Climbing and the climbing wall on Cal Poly campus that create safe and instructive environments for those wanting to learn this extreme sport.
SLO Op Climbing
According to Yishai Horowitz, the operations officer at SLO Op Climbing, SLO Op is the world’s first non-profit bouldering gym, that offers 24/7 access to anyone looking to climb. A bouldering gym means there are no ropes or harnesses involved when climbing, so climbers are left with just their bodies to figure out how to preserver upwards on the wall. Horowitz said the SLO Op offers a variety of terrains, the tallest wall being 18 feet tall.
“It’s like a bar. A fun place where you can go from one place to another, meeting and socializing with friends,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz said that since it is a non-profit organization, it is more of a club gym. Everyone is a club member, creating a fun and friendly environment.
SLO Op Climbing is a great place for people of all skill level to test out their rock climbing abilities. Since it’s open 24/7, it’s a great place to come any hour of the night to blow off some steam!
Cal Poly Climbing Wall
For those of you that are Cal Poly freshman living on campus, or students with extra time between classes looking to try something new, Cal Poly’s climbing wall is a great place to check out. Located directly next to the Cal Poly Recreation Center, the climbing wall offers a 13 foot tall boulder along with a four story climbing tower, making it a climbing environment for beginners and experts.
Graham Goodwin, a first year civil engineering student at Cal Poly, picked up rock climbing this year because of the wall on campus.
“Its super convenient, and a great place to hang out after class,” Goodwin said. “I want to see myself do something I never imagined possible, and I feel like this is the place I can do that”.
Another student that I met climbing the wall that day was Giana Velasquez, a second year kinesiology major at Cal Poly. Velasquez had previous experience rock climbing, but was feeling anxious about trying her luck at the boulder, and said she highly doubted she would actually make it to the top. “This is actually my first time out here, I just decided to try it today because it definitely beats studying,” Velasquez said. She spent about 15 minutes climbing, falling and failing.
Finally, on what was she said would be her last attempt, she made it up the wall, and successfully to the top.
“When I reach the top of the rock, its a cool feeling. I accomplished something that was fun and challenging,” Velasquez said.
Want the Real Thing? Try Bishop Peak!
For those of you who love the outdoors, or prefer real rocks to simulated climbing walls, Bishop Peak is the perfect place to rock climb. Curtis Yarra is a sixth year biomedical engineering student at Cal Poly who goes rock climbing at Bishop Peak on the daily. He had never tried rock climbing until he came to San Luis Obispo, where he was inspired to give it a try when he saw the area.
“I prefer climbing outside than at places like SLO Op because its free and so accessible,” Yarro said. “its so nice to be outdoors in the fresh air and the sunlight on your back”.
Yarro said the best thing about rocking climbing Bishop Peak versus other rocks or climbing walls, besides the fact that its free, is that it has all different style of climbing to do. Yarro then explained to me the three main different types of rock climbing.
3 Main Types of Rock Climbing
- Bouldering- Climbing without a harness or any ropes
- Sport- Using a rope to pull yourself up , with fixed anchors in the rock
- Traditional- (most difficult) climber places all gear required for protection against fall and removes it when a passage is complete
Outdoor rock climbing differentiates from places like SLO Op and the Cal Poly climbing wall because climbers are in the environments natural state.
“You’re out there trying to solve a puzzle that nature made,” Yarro said. “It wasn’t built by a gym with the intention to be climbed”.