Indoor rock climbing gyms
Rock climbing is an exhilarating sport that requires a combination of skills from strength and agility to creativity and problem-solving.
Indoor rock climbing centres are a great way to get started in rock climbing as they offer climbing routes for all ages and abilities, training, guidance and gear rentals.
They’re also popular among experienced climbers who want to practice their climbing, belaying and bouldering techniques when the weather doesn’t permit outdoor climbing.
Most climbers will agree the more challenging the climb, the more rewarding it is.
Learn the ropes, literally, at these indoor climbing facilities so you can build up the skill to take on some of Ontario’s challenging outdoor climbs.
Introduction to rock climbing basics
The three main types of climbing you’ll typically find at rock climbing gyms are:
- Bouldering: ‘free’ climbing or climbing without a harness and rope, usually on lower rock formations
- Top-rope climbing: climbing with the support of a rope that is looped through an anchor at the top of the climb and runs the length of the route, with a climbing partner below controlling the feed with a belay device.
- Lead climbing: the most difficult climbing style involves the climber carrying the rope and attaching it to anchors along their climb, with a climbing partner below controlling the feed with a belay device.
- Key rock climbing equipment: Belay, ropes and anchors: a system of controlling the feed of the supporting rope rock climbers use. The person operating the belay device is called the belayer.
- Harness: nylon straps around the waist and legs connects to the supporting rope with a figure-eight knot allowing the climber the ability to ‘sit’ in mid-air while the climbing rope is controlled by the belayer.
- Rock climbing shoes: flexible and light, rock climbing shoes have special rubber soles designed to provide excellent traction and grip.
- Chalk bag: moisture on the hands may cause fingers to slip so climbers wear a small bag of loose chalk used to rub on their hands to keep them dry and secure a safer grip. Chalk bags are worn holstered to a belt or clipped to the harness with a carabiner.
Rock climbing gyms in and near Toronto
Providing climbers with 7,600 square metres of climbing surface, the Rock Oasis in Toronto is a popular spot for indoor climbers looking for a variety of different routes. The gym offers lots of bouldering space, auto-belay stations and easier courses for beginners.
This theatre-turned climbing gym in Koreatown boasts some of the highest indoor climbs in the city, with a selection of walls from flat to overhang.
There are two locations in the metro area, one in Junction Triangle and another in Etobicoke. The gym specializes in bouldering on smaller rock formations without harnesses, raising grip strength and training to a whole new level. They also have roped climbing and a myriad of classes for all levels themed classes and more.
The first-ever rock climbing gym in Canada, Joe Rockhead’s opened in 1990 and has been going strong ever since, offering plenty of amazing bouldering, top-roping, lead climbing, belay stations and more, as well as classes for all ages and skill levels.
Location: 29 Fraser Avenue, Toronto
Hub Climbing has locations in both Markham and Mississauga. They primarily focus on bouldering, but they feature yoga classes and in-house workouts as well, targeting strength and flexibility for climbers looking to take their climbing skills to the next level.
This is a great gym to transition between indoor and outdoor climbing. Special textured walls, simulated rock surfaces and natural light from the sky window are designed to replicate outdoor climbing.
Location: 11 Curity Avenue, East York
All your rock climbing needs are met with auto-belay climbing, lead climbing, top-rope climbing, bouldering and one of only two certified Olympic-style speed walls.
Location: 330 Lake Road, Bowmanville
Over 40 climbing routes with heights ranging from three to over ten metres, six bouldering areas and ten auto-belay systems for solo climbers there’s plenty to keep your climb improving and prepare you for outdoor climbs.
Location: 482 Ontario Street, Newmarket
A variety of bouldering experiences, uniquely designed climbing walls, five auto-belay stations and knowledgeable, experienced staff make this a great place to get started.
Rock climbing gyms in Ottawa
Founded in 1992, this is Ottawa’s first rock climbing gym and has since grown to nearly 5,200 square metres of climbing surface, with five dedicated bouldering areas and programs for both kids and adults.
Location: 1737B St. Laurent Boulevard, Ottawa
The Kanata Altitude Gym in Ottawa is outfitted with a Délire surface, made of Baltic birch wood, and specially crafted for indoor climbing. The venue offers bouldering, top rope with auto-belay, speed wall and more.
Location: 501 Palladium Drive #0E5, Ottawa
Rock climbing gyms in Southern Ontario
Offering bouldering, top rope and lead climbing, as well as lessons and equipment rental, Climber’s Rock is a great spot to get started in rock climbing.
Location: 5155 Harvester Road #1, Burlington
Junction Climbing Centre is one of the top climbing gyms in southern Ontario. Fun lead walls with steep sections, bouldering areas and more provide climbers with an easy day or some exciting challenges – if that’s what you’re looking for.
Location: 1030 Elias Street, London
Located on Victoria Road South in Guelph, the Guelph Grotto features nearly 2,300 square metres of climbing space with a 15-plus metre lead roof. The gym offers five auto-belays, 15,000 moon board problems, two large bouldering areas and 45 top rope routes. Climbing programs for kids and adults are also available.
Location: 199 Victoria Road South, Guelph
Rock climbing gyms in Central and Northern Ontario
Originally the Funky Monkey, Thunder Bay’s first commercial gym founded in the 1990s, this climbing centre is a great training spot with plenty of bouldering space, as well as private and group lessons.
Location: 425 Northern Avenue, Thunder Bay
In addition to bouldering, lead and top-rope climbing, this Bracebridge facility features a training area with cardio equipment to work on core strength.
Location: 24 Kirkhill Drive, Bracebridge
With rock climbing, yoga and fitness programs, this indoor facility will ‘transform the way you move’. Climbing walls, bouldering and classes are offered for a variety of skill levels and ages.
Location: 1981 Old Burwash Road, Greater Sudbury
Last updated: September 11, 2023