Reaching your peak in the SCV

Aston Martin climbs a rock wall inside Top Out Climbing Gym in Santa Clarita. Cory Rubin/The Signal

We’ve seen it done in movies like “Mission Impossible,” “Point Break” and “Cliffhanger,” but did you know there’s a niche, yet passionate following of rock climbing here in Santa Clarita?

From indoor to outdoor facilities, the rock climbers of the SCV, whether novice to expert, have an abundance of resources available to them. Whether just starting out or looking to hone their skills; interested in learning more about the sport or been climbing their whole life and need to find a nearby gym; wanting only to boulder versus prepping for a free climb outdoors, there is something for everyone.

And according to local enthusiasts, the benefits of rock climbing stem far beyond just re-enacting the best height for an Instagram photo or being able to re-enact movie scenes featuring Stallone of Cruise.

Howard Konishi, owner of Top Out Climbing Gym here in Santa Clarita, said that rock climbing is not only a good workout and there are different styles people can try, but the hobby has a tight-knit community they all belong to, and they’re always looking for new members.

“This sport attracts a lot of people who want to workout, but don’t like the normal gym setting,” said Konishi. “And I’d say it’s normal to be scared, but anytime someone faces something different there’s an anxiety that comes with that. But there’s a social aspect to this and people can make a lot of new and encouraging friends.”

Alex Martin climbs a rock wall inside Top Out Climbing Gym in Santa Clarita. Cory Rubin/The Signal

There are a handful of gyms, such as Top Out, in Santa Clarita offering indoor climbing training classes, with the curriculums ranging from bouldering to belay climbing, beginner to advanced. Also, there happens to be a number of outdoor climbing opportunities located in or near the Santa Clarita Valley, and one needs only to look and group trips and/or events are happening at the base of natural rock faces regularly.

So, whether you’re someone who has never considered having an interest in climbing, wanting to get started but don’t know how or are an experienced climber who is in the market for a new gym/climbing community, here is what you’ll need to know about rock climbing in Santa Clarita.

The Sport

Rock climbing has both indoor and outdoor option, and the two most practiced types are bouldering and belay climbing.

A majority of climbing is either with bouldering, which is unroped and not as high up, and the other is free climbing which goes higher up, uses ropes/belays and has a number of subset styles to go along with it.

“And there’s a bunch of different reasons people will go rock climbing,” said Konish. “But as for the workout, it’s total body.”

Whether your scurrying up a 10-foot boulder with a pad underneath you, or ascending one of various rock walls or enclaves, climbers are using upper, core and lower body strength and to reach the top.

“Some think that it’s only upper, but the lower body is also used to propel yourself upwards and a strong core is also needed to stabilize the body while your hands keep you on the wall,” said Top Out’s owner.

“It’s working out by climbing and having a good time,” he said, “so it doesn’t feel like a traditional workout.”

The Climbers

Aston Martin climbs a rock wall inside Top Out Climbing Gym in Santa Clarita. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Skill level or previous knowledge should not be a deterrent for getting into climbing.

“We have beginner-level climbs, like where you’re climbing up a ladder — and then we have the experts,” said Konishi. “I usually tell newbies to take it slowly, because they’re not adjusted, and they don’t have to go up very high.”

According to Konishi, climbing is a learned ability and it’s a good idea to go at the pace you’re comfortable with.

And for those who are interested in climbing, but are worried about not knowing anyone at the gym, Konishi says that people are always there, after their climbs, to hangout and assist one another.

“For a lot of people, it’s about the whole social aspect that comes with climbing,” said Konishi. “They come in say on a Thursday after work and they find their new friends climbing. Our space is wide open, and everyone is always interacting with everything going on around the facility.”

Many climbing gyms like Top Out, whether they’re in Los Angeles or not, give people the option to purchase day passes and/or memberships, and offer a supportive environment for all those new to the sport.

The Martin family, who were at Top Out Climbing Gym on Tuesday, said their oldest brother Aston has been climbing for five years, while Alex and Ian said they have been climbing for about a year.

“We’re not members here at Top Out, but we come here sometimes because when you go to another gym it feels like people are doing their own thing, not wanting to talk to anyone,” said Alex. “But when you’re rock climbing (in a gym) there’s people here you can always talk to, learn different holds and routes from.”

“People are just really friendly,” said Ian, the youngest of the three Martins.

“It’s not for everyone, but everyone should at least try it,” said Alex. “If you enjoy having fun and testing your abilities, body and mental capabilities, than you should try rock climbing.“

The Locations

Aston Martin climbs a rock wall inside Top Out Climbing Gym in Santa Clarita. Cory Rubin/The Signal

According to officials at the Los Angeles County Departments of Parks and Recreation, there aren’t many places immediately available in the north division of the county for places to rock climb. However, there are a few famous places nearby.

Officials at the Stoney Point in Chatsworth said that while there’s no specific rock-climbing activities, people are allowed to go out their at their own discretion.

And Konishi said that there a couple places like Texas Canyon on the outskirts of  Santa Clarita, as well as further away places, but still manageable drives, to climb such as Joshua Tree, the Angeles National Forest and Yosemite.

However, according to the Top Out gym owner, while those options are available, there’s plenty of challenge  keeping the climb indoors.

So if you’re someone that is looking to getting into climbing, know that the only thing you need to  start learning is workout clothes and coming in with “a good attitude,” according to Konishi, and rentals for climbing shoes and harnesses are offered at most climbing gyms.

“Many climbers don’t know how to climb outdoors, and they don’t know where to start so they need to learn learn from a friend that can take them outdoors,” said Konishi.  “But for most people, the indoors is enough for them.”

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