Reach new heights

You gotta try indoor climbing at Scrapyard Climbing  Collective   

Story and photo by Ann Smith

Scrapyard Climbing  Collective

Madi and Chris Mossel’s enthusiasm for rock climbing is infectious. So are their reasons.

“You set a personal goal — compete against yourself,” Chris says.

“The feeling of completing a route, especially one you’ve been puzzling out for a long time — it’s like a runner’s high,” says Madi. 

Media coverage of indoor climbing walls (including in Urban St., we must confess) can create the impression that it’s just for kids. Nope. Scrapyard Climbing Collective in Holland, which the 30-something Mossels visit three times a week, has customers in their 60s and 70s.

“So many people think, ‘I could never do that,’” Scrapyard’s manager Leah Wielenga says. “But so many different body types, so many ages of people, get really into it. Routes can really get under their skin. You puzzle how to work a route. How am I positioning my body? How is my body moving on the wall?”

By “route,” Wielenga’s speaking of multiple ways to make one’s way from the floor to the top of a wall. Routes are mapped by color coded climbing holds that signal the difficulty of each path up (or under, in the case of overhangs) Scrapyard’s 3600 square feet of climbing surfaces. 

Why indoor climbing? Why now? For outdoor enthusiasts, shifting exercise inside for the winter can be a downer. (A few weeks into frosty weather, is your romance with the StairMaster wearing thin?) Maintaining strength by climbing adds a creative challenge and skills built over a winter can transfer back outside come spring for natural climbs in Grand Ledge near Lansing and other spots. 

“You learn and strengthen by doing it. You don’t have to be a major athlete,” Wielenga says. She and other staff assist new climbers. “We want to be a safe space for people to get comfortable with it,” she adds. 

Scrapyard Climbing Collective
76 S. River Ave., Holland