The act of climbing brings back childhood memories – of scaling a tree in my uncle’s backyard and the satisfaction of “sticking the landing” once I decided I’d had enough. Those were the days when you didn’t realize that this could actually be considered exercise. And trust me, it is exercise.
I parked my car in the lot on a rainy night outside of Rock Spot on the West Side of Providence. Luckily, I wasn’t going to brave the heights of the rock wall alone; my friend Sarah and her husband Tory (who are avid climbers) met me at the gym. Inside, I approached the front desk to check in and get my rock climbing shoes. The shoes were snug, but the staff assured me that as long as they weren’t uncomfortable, this was the proper fitting to prevent slippage on the wall.
Once I secured all of my personal belongings in the cubbies that flank the front desk, it was time to begin my indoor expedition. Rock Spot in Providence is just a bouldering gym. This means that the walls are lower, and you are not attached to a harness, not fixed into the ground with ropes. For a novice, the frontier of a rock gym might appear extremely simple – all you have to do is climb, right? How hard could it be?
I learned quickly that bouldering is far from easy. Yes, the big, colorful handholds are there, but it takes great physical and mental strength to heave yourself up a wall knowing that there aren’t any ropes to support you. The routes are labeled by color and difficulty. If you have any questions, the staff is more than happy to help you determine which paths are best suited for your level of experience. Following both the advice of the staff and my friends, I started out with a very easy one as a warm up and worked my way up to the intermediate routes.
Rock climbing is also a mental puzzle. There’s strategy to ascending the plywood structure – it’s best to look at the entire route beforehand and plan out which holds will lead you best up the wall. Adrenaline junkies and acrophobics (those with a fear of heights) alike would probably agree that there is something joyful about reaching the top of a route that you’ve mastered. I left Rock Spot that night with chalky hands, sore arms, and a sense of accomplishment.
Rock Spot Providence | 42 Rice Street • 217-2772