Despite the mountainless, cactus-kicking terrain of central Texas, rock wrestlers have long been able to find a variety of outdoor climbing in and around Austin. In true Texas fashion, climbing around these parts is not for the faint of heart. Beyond the devilish cedar fever and rugged atmosphere (where finding cacti, fire ants, and snakes is common), central Texas’ flaky limestone makes for potentially dangerous, loose, and crumbling walls.
Obvious dangers aside, outdoor climbing requires a great deal of equipment, expertise, and guts. Historically, climbing has felt like a pipedream sport better left to the adrenaline junkies, bare-chested, bearded men, and covers of extreme sport magazines.
That is until 2015 when Austin Bouldering Project, a community-focused indoor climbing gym, opened its doors to Austin, making the sport accessible to everyone from curious beginners to rugged professionals.
Austin Bouldering Project (ABP), located in east Austin, is a 50,000 square-foot facility featuring world-class bouldering (shorter climbs without the use of rope or harnesses). In 2016, Crux Climbing Center joined the scene as a comprehensive facility offering both rope climbing and bouldering. ABP and Crux fitness offer yoga classes, strength training equipment, spacious areas for working or lounging, gear rentals, and various other amenities for guests to enjoy. Whether going with friends, family, or solo, ABP and Crux undoubtedly open the exciting world of climbing to anyone interested.
And people should be interested.
Rock climbing is an incredible physical, mental, and self-empowering sport.
The physical benefits of climbing almost seem a fortunate side-effect, as climbers are often so enthralled in the fun that it fails to feel like the full-body workout it is. Climbing constantly puts the body through various moves and positions not often experienced in traditional gym routines or day-to-day activities. The movements develop balance, agility, strength, and mobility throughout the entire body. No muscle or muscle group is excluded from climbing, which relies most heavily on the legs and core. Furthermore, hanging from the wall is a sure way to get the heart pumping and the adrenaline rushing.
Climbing also has numerous mental benefits. The physiological response to exercise is proven to reduce stress, and climbing is no exception. What’s more, at its very core, rock climbing is a mental puzzle. To succeed, climbers have to exercise problem solving and critical thinking; so much so that routes (the path or designated moves of a specific climb to the top) are referred to as “problems.” When a climber is struggling to complete a route within their physical ability, the solution is often housed in the brain, as it determines the right moves the puzzle, or route, requires. Luckily, Crux and ABP change their routes frequently, so there are always new problems to tackle.
The more time climbers spend on the wall, the more they learn to trust themselves and rely on their own abilities. Like learning to walk or ride a bike, climbing gives new opportunities for the brain and body to work through and continually master new challenges. As climbers achieve challenges that previously felt impossible, confidence is palpable beyond the rock wall.
The sense of empowerment, mixed with the physical and mental benefits wrapped in adrenaline, is likely why so many Austinites are taking to the sport.
Austin Bouldering Project
979 Springdale Road, Suite 150
Crux Climbing Center
121 Pickle Road, Suite 100
Climbing: bouldering, sport, top rope
Note: Please become fluent with climbing techniques, equipment, and routes before attempting outdoor climbing.
Barton Creek Greenbelt
Climbing: sport, top rope, bouldering
$15/vehicle on summer weekends and holidays
Climbing: sport, top rope
Climbing: sport, trad, top rope, bouldering
Hueco Tanks State Park