Climbers go indoors for fall season

With fall, rain comes making cliffs’ rocky surfaces slippery and dangerous for climbers, but that doesn’t stop them from climbing altogether. Many climbers head to local rock gyms for indoor thrills.

One of the most popular facilities is Portland Rock Gym. PRG houses 8,000 square feet of climbing walls, 40-foot lead walls, 30-foot top ropes, and a bouldering area. The bouldering area, with its unique structure and angles, provides a base for excellent boulder problems. The routes run the “full gauntlet of grades, but cater to the regular customers needs and wants,” according to the PRG’s Web site.

The climbing routes are not permanent and are changed every month or two. In addition to the climbing walls, PRG has a small workout area with various finger and system boards and free weights for a full workout.

The gym is approaching its busiest time of the year, November-March, founder and owner Gary Rall said.

“Because of the weather and the climbing conditions the climbers are stuck inside,” Rall explained.Rall opened Portland Rock Gym in 1988. Located in Southeast Portland on Sixth Avenue, PRG is the only climbing gym in Portland. Rall has 24 years of climbing experience behind him, but doesn’t climb much any more.

“You can’t keep it up forever; life gets in the way,” Rall said. “From the third to tenth year are your most intense climbing times.”

Portland Rock Gym is not just for experienced climbers, but beginners as well. PRG offers an introductory class to learn the basic rope handling and climbing techniques. The three-hour class is offered Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. The cost is $49 for rental equipment and additional practice time. The gym also offers group and party packages starting at about $35 per hour. All classes and groups must be reserved in advance, with one to two weeks notice.

Rall has a staff of eight experienced trainers who are available at a variety of hours, seven days a week: Mon., Wed., Fri. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Tues., Thurs. 7 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Portland Rock Gym offers a taste for people who would like to get to know the flavor of climbing. Every Friday, from 6-9 p.m. PRG holds Friday Night Heights, which costs $20 and includes three hours of training and technique tips as well as rental equipment and a day pass.

For more info call: 503-232-8310 or go to