Central Rock provided New England Outside with no incentives to write this review.
I recently went to Central Rock gym in Hadley MA and had a great time sharpening my rock skills while climbing a wide variety of walls. Before I go any farther I just want to create the right perspective for this review. I am not an expert climber but I do enjoy getting on some rock, indoor or outdoor, from time to time. So the following review of Central Rock is written from the average climber’s point of view.
Central Rock is a rock gym chain that recently opened a new location in Hadley, MA. They have a wide range of bouldering, top roping and lead climbing routes available. Central Rock offers classes on belaying and climbing as well as yoga classes, free weights and cardio machines. A day pass is $16 and you can rent climbing gear (shoes, harness, etc.) for a few dollars more.
Upon walking into Central Rock I was immediately impressed at how big it was. I have seen a few rock gyms in my day but this is by far the biggest. It basically looks like a warehouse with rock faces all over it.
One side of the gym is occupied by bouldering walls, 2 sides are full of 5.6-5.9 climbs and another side has shorter walls for beginners. Check out this site if you would like some more info on the slightly confusing climbing rating system.
The centerpiece of the gym is a massive structure that features far more difficult climbs with huge overhangs. It seems like this place has something for every climber.
I took the beginning belay class to refresh my skills. The friendly instructor basically walked us through the basic climbing knots and the motions of belaying. The class took about an hour and we were free to climb on our own once we demonstrated that we knew what we were doing. The beginner class did not cover anything about climbing technique but I didn’t really expect it to. This class is the best ways for brand new climbers to learn to safely enjoy the sport of rock climbing so I highly recommend it.
Now that my skills were fresh I was ready to take on a rock face. It was a weekend afternoon so most of the beginner routes were occupied. However, I was able to find a nice 5.7 route to warm up on. Despite the popularity of this gym I had no problem finding different routes that were within my ability. I then spent a few hours trying as many routes as possible until I worked my way up to a 5.9. By then I barely had enough grip strength to close my fist so I decided to call it a day.
All in all I am pretty impressed with Central Rock. Their facility is clean, with a huge range of climbing options and the rates do not seem outrageous. You can expect to encounter a crowd on weekends but that is just a chance to meet fellow climbers.