Mesa Rim, Reno’s largest climbing center, has opened their state-of-the-art training facility to the region | SierraSun.com

Mesa Rim, Reno’s largest climbing center, has opened their state-of-the-art training facility to the region

Get ready climbers out there, Mesa Rim is finally here in all of its 24,000-square-foot glory.

"This is my fourth or fifth time here since Saturday," said Tyler Simmons, a new member of the brand-spankin'-new training facility.

"Other gyms around here are subpar, modern gyms like this have tall walls and yoga and it seems like the others we have around here haven't been updated in forever. I'm a rope climber, so this is really exciting," he said.

Stationed on Harvard Way in Reno, Nev., is the enormous, sleek and modern fitness facility that takes climbing to the next level with its specialized instruction, high-tech equipment, and massive array of climbing routes and bouldering walls.

Around 80 routes are staged for climbs reaching 35 to 52 feet above the ground, and feature four crack systems and opportunities for top-rope and lead climbing all with a partner.

Mesa Rim has a staff full of knowledgeable, experienced climbers, who teach private and group lessons for children and adults, even catering to timid first-timers by offering their first ascents from "the donut," an enclosed area of the gym with walls surrounding you with mellow, introductory routes.

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"We definitely want to make climbing accessible and non-intimidating for new climbers. This area we call 'the donut.' And it's more private so people don't have to be on display on the big wall for their first times out," said manager and co-founder Marlowe Kulley.

"We also have some really challenging climbs for more experienced climbers. The thought process behind the facility is to be able to train and welcome a family of four, for example, to learn and understand the sport; while having other people who compete on the world stage, and still having fun right next to each other."

Kulley and her husband co-founded the climbing center after living what she describes as their "climbing bum life" where the pair traveled around in a sprinter van, chasing their rock climbing passion.

The two excitedly opened Mesa Rim's doors on Saturday, Aug. 5, to about 1,000 new climbers and said they're excited to offer a new gym to locals and visitors of the area, whatever their climbing preference may be.

"You get people who are really into the cracks, people who are really into bouldering, some who hate bouldering and are really into rope climbing and others who like to climb, but never, or rarely ever, do they climb outside — we offer everything you could need for whatever your climbing preference is," Kulley said.

The gym offers athletes around the region a fun or competitive training space in which to get comfortable.

Three experts are on staff as route setters, who rotate the climbing lines every eight weeks, using their expertise and appreciation for the sport's technicality to decide exactly which hand or toe hold piece shape fits where, and at what angle on the walls.

Guests can practice indoors, where they can consult experts and get their bearings before heading out into nature to test their skill on the real granite.

"There's no weathering, no freezing with an indoor climbing gym, you don't get chunks breaking off like you do in nature, so it allows people to get comfortable," Kulley said.

The gym features a sign-up sheet to match climbers with new partners in order to connect with new friends.

"This isn't a 'put headphones in and tune everyone out' space, we really want to foster a sense of community," Kulley said.

In the spirit of communal, healthy living, the gym also features a comfortable lounge space upstairs beside the private, enclosed yoga studio and cardio workout stations that overlook the climbing walls below. Downstairs are walls and walls of rock of varying difficulty level, notating difficulty with the Yosemite number grading system on cards displayed below.

Beside the rope-climbing walls is a large bouldering section where guests can practice solo.

Around the corner is a weight-training center ideal for warm-ups or circuits.

The men's and women's locker rooms are designed to bring absolute comfort and convenience to athletes, allowing guests to stop in for a quick one-hour climb during lunch, shower, freshen up, and head back into the office.

Another perk for members is the co-ed sauna for soothing sore muscles, as well as an outdoor balcony on the second level, perfect for sunbathing and lounging.

Mesa Rim's late hours also make fitness more accessible to folks in the region who like to get a workout in, after-work hours. Mesa Rim is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

Yoga programming in the facility has drawn climbers to yoga and yogis to climbing, as the two are similar both physically and mentally.

"There's crossover between yoga and climbing, they have strong parallels in the mind-body aspect," Kulley said.

"Both make you physically stronger and you need the mental game for climbing something really tough. In yoga it's all about whether you can be present on the mat, breathe in a tough posture, it's the same for climbing. The flexibility, strength, balance, posture, and all of the benefits from yoga and climbing are similar," she added.

The facility promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle, focusing on rock climbing while also incorporating strength and technique training, and supporting mental and physical stamina through yoga.

Youth drop-in programming is available as well as competitive team climbing for children and adults in the area who take climbing very seriously.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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