With the climbing trip to Colorado cancelled due to weather last month, and Moab coming up next month, it felt like it was time for a short, midweek road trip. On September 6th, 2017 six members of Climb Cleveland took the better part of a day to drive to Pittsburgh, PA with the intent of checking out Ascend | Pittsburgh, a climbing gym that opened its doors around the same time we did. As we do at Climb Cleveland, Ascend offers a variety of activities for members and visitors. They have climbing, yoga and fitness classes. Unlike we do, Ascend hosts climbing competitions and has completed a summer camp, their first, and have ambitions of repeating camps in 2018. Although competitions are likely not going to be a part of our future at CC, we’ve got climbing clubs for youth in the works, so stay tuned!

Each one of us enjoyed touring and playing in the expansive Ascend gym. With around 18,000 square feet devoted to climbing, one feels small in a vast expanse of  four Walltopia modules. The gym has three boulder-like modules, and one higher module for top-rope routes. They set routes differently than we do, with colors not dictating the difficulty, rather the continuity of a single route. Each route’s difficulty is indicated by a tag on the start holds, many of which are also Rock Candy Holds. They do not specify difficulty precisely, but use a range e.g. V4-V6.

The staff were very receptive to our visit, and went out of there way to inform us and make us feel at home. It was a welcoming environment. Natural light floods in through large windows along the North wall, creating a nice atmosphere with the aesthetic of almost being outdoors. Ascend has a large area devoted to check-in and even serves coffee and small pastries. They’ve got equipment for sale such as shoes, clothing, ropes, packs and harnesses, among other items like chalk and chalk sacks.

As far as pricing goes, a day pass at Ascend includes classes on offer that day, and costs $16 for an adult. Shoe rental is $4/day, and you can also rent a chalk bag for a buck. Monthly membership starts at $60/mo. but to get access to all the classes, you’ll have to tack on an extra $40.

It’s definitely worth checking out Ascend if you’re in the Pittsburg area. The gym’s neighborhood is a lot like ours in Tremont. Close to colleges, many restaurants, lofts and breweries (the very building Ascend now occupies was a large brewery), amidst a post-industrial, “steel city” of bridges and an inspirational hum of diverse growth and renovation. Our Climb Cleveland team enjoyed exploring new terrain. Getting a fresh perspective on our home turf was an added benefit to venturing out into another city.

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