F.A.Q.

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How do I get started?

We recommend the 1-hour Introductory Lesson as the best starting point.

What does the Introductory Lesson cover?

The Introductory Lesson will teach you how to:
• Put on your climbing harness
• Tie into the climbing rope with a figure-eight follow-through and keeper knot
• Operate the belay device (called a “Grigri”) safely to control the rope for your climbing partner.

What is the difference between bouldering, top-roping and lead climbing?

Bouldering is low climbing without ropes. It can be done alone, and does not require any certification or instruction. Top-roping is the most common type of climbing you’ll see in the gym, in which a climber goes up a fixed rope while their partner manages the rope (“belays” them). Lead climbing is a more advanced form, in which the climber brings their own rope along as they climb, clipping into the carabiners attached to the wall. Lead climbing requires advanced training, and allows access into the steepest parts of the gym where top-ropes cannot be attached.

What is “belaying”?

Belaying is the act of managing the rope for your climbing partner to keep them safe. Whenever a climber goes up a wall on a rope, they must have a partner who has been certified by True North staff as being qualified to belay. For a top-rope climber, the belayer takes up slack as the climber goes up the wall, and then lowers them gently to the padded floor when they are done. If you don’t know how to belay, you can learn in our 1-hour Introductory Lesson.
Note that our belay devices (Grigris) are not anchored to the floor (this is because the rope is wrapped twice around the belay bar at the top of the wall, creating enough friction to offset most weight disparities between belayer and climber). The belayer must therefore wear a harness in order to attach the Grigri and act as the climber’s anchor.

What is the minimum age to climb?

There is no minimum age! If a kid can walk, they can climb. We allow children under 4 to climb for free, under the close supervision of a parent. We have a few full-body harnesses available for children who are too small for the regular rental harness.
There is also no such thing as being “too old” to climb! We offer discount rates to seniors, and have several members who take advantage of that. Our oldest climber so far was an 89-year old grandmother!

What is the minimum age to belay?

You must be 13 or older to belay. This is the age where we feel kids generally have both the physical capability and the maturity to handle this responsibility. For school groups receiving belay instruction, the minimum age is 14 (we have found it challenging to get large groups of 13 year olds to stay focused during the lesson). We occasionally make exceptions to this policy on a case-by-case basis for exceptional youth climbers, such as the members of our Youth Competitive team.

Do I need to take a lesson in order to climb?

You can come and boulder (low climbing without ropes) without a lesson. When doing roped climbing, every climber needs a belayer to control the rope for them. Before you can belay in our gym, you must pass our Belay Safety Test, by demonstrating that you can:

  • Put on your climbing harness
  • Tie into the climbing rope with a figure-eight follow-through and keeper knot
  • Perform a safety check on your partner
  • Operate the belay device (called a “Grigri”) safely to control the rope for your climbing partner.
When you have demonstrated these skills you will be issued a red belay tag to attach to your harness, to show our staff that you are belay certified. If you cannot demonstrate these skills, you must take the Introductory Lesson to learn them.
If you are with a group of other climbers who are belay certified by True North Climbing, you also have the option of having them belay you while you only climb. You will be issued a white belay tag for the day.

Do I need a partner?

You need a climbing partner for roped climbing. You may boulder (low climbing without ropes) on your own if you like.

How can I find a partner?

We recommend the ClimbFind.com or ClimbingPartner.net web sites to find a climbing partner, and have integrated ClimbFind into our web site here.

Do I need to book in advance?

We request advance booking for the following services, in order to ensure we have enough room and staff to take care of you:

  • Introductory Lessons (1 day or more; we offer the Lesson almost every hour on the hour, but the lessons often fill up)
  • Weekend Scramble Sessions  (3 days or more)
  • Private Lessons (2 days or more)
  • Birthday Parties, School groups, Corporate groups (1 week; 2 weeks for groups of more than 20)
With dozens of staff members and hundreds of scheduled shifts each month, our scheduling is complex. Thank you for understanding that we need advance notice to provide the services above.

What should I wear/bring?

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that lets you move freely. If you wear shorts, avoid very short shorts, as they can be uncomfortable with the harness straps. Bring flip-flops if you expect to be taking off your climbing shoes often (they can fit very snugly, and some people like to give their feet a break!). Those with long hair should bring a hair elastic to tie it up with. A water bottle is a good idea. Note that we do not sell bottled water (out of concern for the environment); we have a water fountain providing all the clean water you want for free! Bring a lock to secure your valuables (or you can buy one from us); there are lots of lockers in each change room.

Can I bring my children to climb?

Absolutely! Kids of all ages love climbing, though we find that those 8 or older are more likely to enjoy an extended session. For top-rope climbing, you’ll need to either know how to belay (note that the belayer must also wear a harness), or book a spot in one of our Weekend Scramble Sessions well in advance.
Please note that all those under 18 must have a Minor Waiver Form initialed and signed by their parent. This form can also be completed digitally online here on our web site. If you are bringing along nieces or nephews or friends of your children, you must get this form filled out and initialed/signed by their parent.

Is there a fee for a Belay Test or Lead Test?

No, both the Belay Test and Lead Test are offered free of charge. Belay Tests are available on demand, but please call us in advance if you have a large group who will all need a Belay Test. Lead Tests are usually available on demand; most but not all of our instructors are qualified to do a Lead Test, so it’s a good idea to call ahead to let us know when you’ll need one. If you fail your Belay Test or Lead Test you may not re-do it on the same day. If you fail the Lead Test twice we will ask you to take our Lead Course before trying again.

Is there free parking at the gym?

Yes, lots of free parking right at our door! But getting to our door can be tricky the first time, so please take a look at the map on our Location page!

Can I show my friend how to belay?

No. Only True North Climbing instructors may instruct in our gym. This is both to keep our insurance company and lawyer happy, and also to ensure that our high standard of safety is consistently applied.

Isn’t climbing a dangerous “extreme” sport?

As a gravity-defying activity, rock climbing brings with it the perception of being an “extreme sport”. The reality is that indoor climbing, when done properly, can be enjoyed by almost anyone. There are studies (such as this one and this one) that suggest that indoor climbing is actually significantly safer than many other “conventional” sports, such as soccer and basketball! There are inherent risks of course, and at True North Climbing we take safety very seriously. Explore the pages under The Facility->Safety to learn more.

What does it cost? Where can I find information about prices?

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