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UPDATE (1/4/2015): Volcanic Rock Gym has moved to Kailua. See Volcanic Rock Gym – Kailua, HI.
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First off, I should say that I don’t work for Volcanic Rock Gym. I do try to support VRG as much as possible though because the gym has done so much to foster growth of the rock climbing community in Hawaii. So while gym climbing is an indoor activity (Unreal Hawaii is an outdoor lifestyle blog) and meant to be a training facility, I like to feature the gym because it’s allowed me to meet some super cool people. People that I now climb with outdoors. Also, the more you climb the more awesome your abs will look at the beach. (Come on now, you know you’ve thought about that too.)
Now regarding that reset…
At rock climbing gyms, the walls are covered in holds and each hold has at least one piece of colored tape next to it. Each color represents a route or bouldering “problem.” When you’re on a route, you can only put your hands and feet on holds with the same color tape. Look for holds lower to the ground with two pieces of same color tape and a name on it. That’s a start hold. Then follow the route up the wall and you’ll see another hold with two pieces of that color tape, and that’s the finish. This is what makes climbing in the gym fun. When you look at a wall and see over a hundred holds on it, you challenge is to figure out how to climb a route that might only use six.
To finish the route you have to figure out creative ways to extend your reach and build your grip strength to hang on to small holds. Sometimes you finish a route on the first try, sometimes it takes 20 tries or more. But each time you climb you get better and that progress is addicting. Many of you already know this but I know that my first time at the climbing gym, I had no idea what was going on until someone explained it to me.
Eventually, after a couple months or so, what happens is you’ll find that you’ve climbed all the routes within your skill level and you’ll crave some new challenges. Most likely everyone else feels the same way and that’s when it’s time to reset the holds.
When they reset the routes, they don’t just reset the tape, they unscrew all the holds and create new problems one by one. This is Garret, the man behind the long BBuddy (or BB) traverses. The traverse covers the longest wall in the gym and at the end, when you’re arms are totally dead, you’re supposed to climb the campus board.
Ryan and Nick work on a route. You can see a video of how this route goes on the Unreal Hawaii Facebook page. It’s a really cool one that keeps you upside down on the roof of the cave the whole way.
While the reset was happening in the cave, there was still plenty of climbing happening in the gym. Here’s Phil working on something super hard.
It’s not just sweaty dudes here. There are plenty of female climbers at the gym. Here’s Wai Yi making this tough problem look easy. It’s the pink tape with small red holds. You need strong hands for this one as those holds bite.
Hiro under the overhang.
Ryan testing out his new route.
Nick testing has cave problem.
When a reset is complete, you’ll still see new problems pop up from week to week. The walls will fill in more with routes of various difficulty levels. Soon, points will displayed on each route (for the climbing league) which gives you an idea of how hard it is. But don’t go off points alone. If your looking for your next route to tackle and don’t know where to start, just ask someone. Everyone is friendly here.