By Sue Rodman
Each week, Atlanta Rocks, a climbing gym off I-75, hosts family night. It’s a great active night out with the kids, especially if you have multiple age ranges. My boys are between 7 and 14; I enjoyed seeing them contemplate the walls and determine what route they were going to climb. Each one was challenged, but not frustrated. There is so much to do in Atlanta with smaller kids, it is nice to find something that engaged and excited my tween and teen, but also kept the attention of my youngest. Family night prices include shoes and the harness. You only need to bring socks for the climbing shoes.
Atlanta Rocks has more than 12,000 square feet of professionally designed climbing surfaces. There are 50 top-rope stations, some with auto-belays, which means the safety straps you clip onto gently let you down to the floor if you fall or after reaching your destination. These walls are a great way to warm up. Belay walls require a staffer or someone trained to belay the rope that straps to your harness. If you have someone belay trained in your group, you’ll be free to move about the gym. If not, no worries, family night is supervised by Atlanta Rocks staff and they belay participants, usually in groups of six. Bouldering rocks allow those waiting to be belayed the chance to try their climbing skills without ropes. Bouldering is allowed up to shoulder height and doesn’t require a staff or trained support person.
Couple of notes on the different walls. The auto belays are generally the easier climbs. You can use these to work up to more difficult walls like 14 where the rock jets out. Climb 10 allows you to swing out from the wall if you can’t climb up the entire way – a fun exercise for my youngest and a big challenge to avoid swinging for my oldest.
Ashley, our guide, was a great help. She steered us to the right walls for our ability and challenged us to various routes. She even instructed us on climbing, showing us how to lean into the corners for a good grip. We also needed her help to read the guides around the gym, basically a sheet of paper with the various routes and difficulty level. The guide corresponds to colored holds on the wall. Using the same colored holds is more difficult than just using the closest hold available. Colored tape on the holds gives instructions for the more experienced climbers who can read them, I could never figure out what route the tape was taking.
Family Night is a perfect way to test your group’s interest in climbing. If they love it, have someone get certified to belay and you can come anytime. Weekends are busiest, so if you have a belayer in the group, you won’t have to wait for a staffer to belay. Atlanta Rocks offers a Family Climbing Class for a flat fee of $50 per family. After the course, anyone over the age of 12 can take the belay test to belay other climbers. Always make a reservation to climb or call ahead to be sure there is space.
What: Atlanta Rocks Family Night
Where: 1019 Collier Rd., Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-351-3009
When: Wednesday evenings 6 pm – 9 pm
Cost: One Parent climbs free with each paying child.
$20* for your first family member under 18. Additional members under 18 climb for $15 each.
Five Visit Family Night Punch Card (First youngster) is only $90 (Second youngster) is only $65
* Family night is supervised by Atlanta Rocks! Please make reservations so they can staff accordingly
Photos: For additional photos of Atlanta Rocks Climbing Gym, visit Field Trips with Sue on Facebook