A Visit to LA Boulders

I’ve taken to bouldering fairly well. This is now the second month into my new hobby, and I find it rewarding and fascinating. For my birthday this year I decided to treat myself to a visit to one of Southern California’s largest bouldering gyms–LA Boulders by Touchstone Climbing in the heart of the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles.

The size of this gym is most impressive. 12,000 sq feet of bouldering terrain, 17 ft high walls, and a top-out section (to scramble onto and above the “rock” for that extra challenge.) This shows the Wave wall and Mega Arch (center of pic) and Igloo. (right side)

I went on a Thursday morning shortly after opening and almost had the whole run of the gym to myself. The sign-in process for new visitors to the gym is quick and painless–there is a station of iPads to sign and read the injury waiver before going to the counter to pay fees/rent equipment. I took more time walking throughout the gym to check it out thoroughly. There is so much variety in the space and I couldn’t wait to explore it all.

Underside of the Mega Arch (has topouts)

Topping out was probably the most fun part of this gym. Topping out refers to scrambling over the wall to the top of the “rock” as you would in nature, if there was a top to get to. Below is the view from atop the Mega Arch facing the Prow and part of the Horseshoe areas (see map here– not all the walls have top outs.)

Oh god, how to get off the rock

There are several ways off the top but it takes some getting used to. I had difficulty imagining how to go down feet first because of how you turn your body and feel for the holds with your feet. I’m 5’1″. I use most if not all the holds in a given route just because my reach isn’t great. Here’s me being somewhat terrified at the topout–I didn’t exactly think of how I was going to get off the rock once I got there.

I’m smiling here but I was shaking then.

I finally made it off thanks to one of the other guys climbing there that day that showed me how to slowly move from the edge and grab onto the hold while feeling out for the bottoms with my toes. After that, the rest was a piece of cake and I kept trying as many problems I could along the Atari and Horseshoe areas, which had less overhangs than the Prow, Mega Arch, Barrel, and Igloo. The area called the Wave was more a slab-type rock but that day I only had one or two problems on that wall that I could attempt–the basic VO’s.

In addition to the vast array of wall and route choices, LA Boulders also has a gym with weights and an upstairs area with several treadmills and bikes. I finished up my day with some chest presses and light stretching in their weight room:

Tired and hungry at this point, but ecstatic about the entire experience.

Took me a while to write this post! Anyhow, LA Boulders is pretty amazing–if you’re in the Downtown LA area and are craving to send some problems, their Arts District gym has plenty for you to work on.

I’ll be back with a general life/running update soon–I really need to sit down and think about how my Star Wars 10K training is going, but for right now I must get ready for tomorrow’s training run!


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