Saturday, August 14, 2010

Review- Stone Summit Climbing Gym

The Stone Summit
Stone Summit is the talk of the town. Ok, maybe not the entire town, but you get the picture. Every climber I speak with, even if I haven't seen them for months, only wants to talk about one thing, Atlanta's new uber gym, the largest in America. At first I was dismissive. Despite evidence to the contrary, I prefer not to view myself as a gym climber, and I certainly don't want others to think I am some sort of plastic junkie. My default response to the topic was always, "If I am going to drive over an hour to climb, I am going to actually climb, and there is no way I am going to drive and then pay to climb." The elitism was thick as molasses. However, one can only be so resolved in their quest to seem above the plastic pulling masses, and my disdain became slowly replaced by curiosity.

Soon enough, I became the one to broach the ever popular subject. I assured myself that this was acceptable because the insufferable heat made it all but impossible to climb anyway. I may have retained a veneer of toughness, but I knew I would take up the first offer given to visit the new gym. In exchange for some beta about the Gunks, "Saxfiend" offered to let me use one of his guest passes, so I could get in for free. That settled it. We agreed to meet up on Thursday night, and unable to find anyone to split gas, I was off alone towards the plastic powerhouse.

The first half of the 70 meter gym route
The building itself is massive, and the parking lot is even larger. To put it into perspective, this is the only climbing gym I have been to with an approach. Make sure you bring your heavy hikers. My first reaction after opening the big glass doors and stepping in to the gym was that this place was big. It was by far the largest artificial rock wall I had ever seen. However first impressions are often incorrect. After walking further into the gym, I quickly realized that I had only seen a fifth of the total climbing space. This place isn't big. It is not even huge. It is massive. Stone Summit features a route that requires a 70 meter rope. I was kidding before about the approach, but I am serious about this. Not only does the main wall top 60 feet at its highest point, but there is a second story above the lobby featuring multiple 30 foot walls. To top it all off, the bouldering area, which I did not have time to set foot in, appeared to be bigger than most climbing gyms.

The Giant Prow
Once "Saxfiend" arrived, we hit the ground running. We started off with some easier vertical climbs but quickly moved on to the steeps. The wall angles at Stone Summit are unreal and quite varied. One route started off with delicate face climbing before moving into a wild overhanging section and finished with a technical slab. Pretty cool for a gym route. By closing time, my forearms were useless and I was dripping sweat. I couldn't remember the last time I had felt so worked. I also couldn't remember ever having more fun at a gym.

Stone Summit is the Disney World of climbing. They are both cheap imitations of the real thing, but no one can deny their appeal. At only 12 bucks a person, I recommend that anyone in the Southeast make at least one trip to see this thing. The fact that this place was packed on a Thursday seems to say that this is the future of climbing gyms. It will be interesting to see how this gym will affect the climbing scene in the Southeast, but that is another article.
Fried after three hours of madness, "Saxfiend" ties in for his final route.

No comments: