Rock Climbing in San Diego at Vertical Hold

Rock Climbing in San Diego is Easy and Fun for Any Skill Level at Vertical Hold

“Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top of Mount Everest or to the top of your career.” -A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

rock climbing in San Diego

I started rock climbing my freshman year of college, when I needed only a few gym credits, and the class was an easy one-weekend way to accomplish this obligation. As soon as I signed up for the class, I also started searching for ways to practice. I found a climbing gym in my hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, and started practicing once a week, for about 3 months before the trip. By the time the trip to Marquette, Michigan came around, I thought I was well prepared for what was to come. I showed up with my camping gear, and no one else in the entire class had ever tried rock climbing before. The whole six hour drive up I kept thinking how excited I was to be the only one who really “knew everything” about climbing. Boy was I mistaken, rock climbing is intense, no matter how much you practice.

rock climbing in San Diego

When we finally arrived at the edge of the first cliff we were planning on repelling down, I completely freaked out. It was raining, people were slipping going down, and I started crying. I was the last person to repel that day, but the second my foot hit the bottom of the mountain, I was addicted. Our group went out climbing for two more days after that, and I loved it more and more. Since moving to San Diego a few years ago, I haven’t heard too much about rock climbing. The other day I got curious and googled good places to go rock climbing in San Diego, and found what ended up to be the most fun rock climbing gym I’ve ever been to, Vertical Hold.

rock climbing in San Diego

Vertical Hold is an incredible indoor rock climbing gym in San Diego, California. This gym specializes the best in Bouldering, Top Rope and Lead Climbing. This is really a place you can go if you’ve never even heard of rock climbing, or if you’re an expert. There is something for everyone. As soon as you walk in, you’re greeted by a friendly staff member who will help you determine your skill level and what you need.

rock climbing in San Diego

On your first trip, you may just want to try bouldering, or climbing up rocks without a harness. You only go about 12 feet up, and at Vertical Hold they have a bouldering cave that is completely padded where you can climb for almost an hour without getting bored. Once the “harness bug” bites, you’ll want to get a lesson on how to belay so that you and your friends can hold the ropes while the others climb. The lesson takes only about 25 minutes, and instructors can teach you everything you need to know to work with the ropes.

rock climbing in San Diego rock climbing in San Diego

After that point, you can go anywhere in the gym and try climbing any wall. Each wall has lots of handholds and footholds, so you can try to climb anything, but once you get past the initial “how do I even get up this wall?” thoughts, you’ll want to pay attention to the colored tape on the wall. As you’re looking around at all of the different colored tape that’s next to the different rocks on the wall, you’ll notice that the paths are named, and if you follow the tape from the floor to the ceiling, you can see which rocks you are supposed to hold onto for that path. This video explains a lot more about the grading scale for the paths, and where you should start, but you can always cheat a bit if you want to try a harder path and just use a few other rocks that belong to other paths to make your way up. For more experienced climbers, there is lead climbing, which is when you climb and clip yourself in farther and farther as you go up the wall.

rock climbing in San Diego

It is so much fun to choose a path, and work day after day trying to solve the physical and mental puzzle. When you finally reach the top of a path, it feels so good and makes it an easy sport to come back to again and again. If you’re having a more relaxing day, you can join the yoga classes at Vertical Hold that are held every Monday through Thursday night from 7pm to 8pm. I also bring my son with me climbing most days, and he loves it so much, he has joined the recreational squad which practices one, two or three days a week together. They have special events and camps as well, so there is always something fun to do at Vertical Hold. You can purchase a day pass which includes gear rental, or if you become a member, you only need to rent gear.

rock climbing in San Diego

If you’re thinking you can’t really rock climb, think again! This gym makes it easy to try out, and it is pretty fun right away. My ultimate goal is to go on another outdoor rock climbing trip, this time with my son, but for now we will train and have fun at Vertical Hold. Have you ever tried rock climbing? Let me know how you enjoyed it!


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Amanda Henry
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Amanda Henry is a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, photographer, web designer, mom, and freelance blogger living the luxury and active lifestyle in San Diego.