Get Out of Your Comfort Zone- Climbing at The Cliffs

The kids are off from school for two long weeks. Christmas is over, it’s really cold outside, and we’re in need of some indoor diversions that will keep everyone busy, happy and active.  Enter: The Cliffs!

The Cliffs is an indoor rock climbing facility, where you can spend an afternoon learning “the ropes”. If you’ve never climbed before, this is the perfect place to give it a try and learn the basics.The Cliffs offers you a taste of the excitement of rock climbing, while knowing you are completely safe and being watched over carefully by the professionals on staff.  This was the perfect idea to offer up to my family – a unique experience, with some adrenaline, exercise, and fun all wrapped up into one experience.

happy day westchester the cliffs signWhen I told the family we were headed to The Cliffs for rock climbing, I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I’d get. With a wide range of ages and personalities in my family, most of my suggestions don’t get unanimous approval – it’s hard to please everyone at the same time. I was thrilled when The Cliffs was met with a thumbs up by everyone in my house. Two kids were excited and ready to climb; two were willing to at least tag along but they weren’t sure they’d give it a try. They were a little nervous, unsure what to expect. I had a feeling they’d come around, though – who among us could stand by and watch while their siblings scale the walls?

happy day westchester cliffs climb

Race to the top!

I called ahead and asked about the particulars. Did I need a reservation? Would we have to take a training class? Great news: climbing at the Cliffs is easy from start to finish. Just show up during “Open Climb” hours, pay one per-person equipment rental/day pass fee, and the staff at the Cliffs will take you out for up to 4 climbs. What could be easier?

happy day westchester cliffs dayna

Getting clipped in by Dayna

We arrived midday and the place was jumpin’. While the adults filled out the waiver forms and got the family registered, the kids watched other climbers and got the feel of the place. This preview was enough to convince one of the on-the-fence kids to join the ranks of climbers. Within minutes, three of my kids and I were getting strapped into harnesses and heading for the walls, with just one kid, and Dad, left “watching”.

Dayna, Megan and Lars were our “belayers” and instructors for our adventure. They strapped us in, taught us the basics, recommended climbs, and held the ropes while we made our ascents. They were all awesome to work with. I spent most of my time with Dayna, and she was absolutely wonderful with my kids. She gave pep talks to my anxious eight year old and hugs to my exuberant 10 year old. Thanks for a great time, Dayna, Megan and Lars!

happy day westchester dayna megan lars

Lars, Dayna and Megan – our belayers

The first two kids- the adventurous souls in the family – volunteered to go first and were up the beginner wall in no time. As predicted, this convinced the final hold-out to give it a try, and soon all four kids were climbing. The older kids made their way around the gym, moving to increasingly difficult walls and climbs as they were ready.  They did a few routes up the walls side-by-side, in the spirit of the ever-present sibling rivalry – who would make it to the top first?

Was it difficult? I’d have to say that depends. Three of my kids were climbing like Spider Man in no time, with no fear. My fourth was slowed down slightly by anxiety- those big walls can be intimidating for a little guy – but he pushed through and did all four of his allotted climbs. Myself? I climbed too, and I have to admit it was more difficult for me than it was for my kids. I had to overcome a little anxiety too – and then I had to harness every ounce of upper-body strength I could muster to make it to the top – but I did it! It was challenging, a great work out, and it was an absolutely exhilarating feeling when I made it to the top. (Note to self: add a few more sets of bicep curls to my workout in the New Year).

happy day westchester cliffs boulders

Bouldering – no rope!

In addition to the 13,000 square feet of climbing terrain, there is also 2,500 square feet of bouldering. Bouldering involves climbing on lower rock walls with no rope; instead there is a mat underneath you in case you should fall. My kids found this even more fun than climbing higher with the protection of a rope.

With a big family and a wide range of ages, it’s really tough to find any activity that will make everyone happy.  The Cliffs was a definite win for the whole family!

What you need to know, in a nutshell:

1. No experience necessary! If you’ve never rock climbed before – or never even CONSIDERED rock climbing before – consider it now. Here’s your chance. Go ahead and do something that might be totally out of your comfort zone. You’ll be so glad you did!

happy day westchester kids climb

Easier climbs for younger kids

2. Perfect for all ages, six and up.  During our visit, my eight year old was the youngest person on site. He was slightly intimidated by the high walls and a fear of falling; Dayna, our wonderful instructor, worked with him to help him feel comfortable, without pushing.  She directed him to the smaller walls which worked best for him. In the end, he overcame his fear and was very proud of himself. My 10, 12 and 14 year olds all loved this activity, and so did I. Bottom line: this is the perfect activity for anyone, young and old, age six and up, with easier and more difficult climbs available for all levels and comfort zones.

3. When to go? If you are new to climbing, make sure to go during “Open Climb” hours.  During those times you can just walk in and staff will be available to assist you and show you everything you need to know to get started.  Check the website, linked below, for Open Climb hours. During holiday weeks, Open Climb hours are extended. Now is the perfect time to go!

4. How much time do you need? We spent almost two hours at The Cliffs, and that was perfect for us – but you can stay as long as you want.

5. How much? We paid $ 22 per person which included the “day pass”, the basic equipment we needed, plus four supervised climbs each – or 20 climbs in total for my family with five climbers.  We used all but two of those climbs, and we walked out with tickets to do our two remaining climbs next time. Great to know: you can save unused climbs. Our pass also included unlimited “bouldering”. We wore our sneakers, and that worked fine for us. Climbing shoes are also available to rent for an additional fee, but they weren’t necessary for us as a beginners. Anyone who just wants to watch is free. Finally, for anyone interested in learning more or coming often, there are classes and packages to suit many needs.

For more information and to find out Open Climb Hours, visit the website of The Cliffs here:  http://thecliffsclimbing.com/valhalla/

Have you been to The Cliffs? Would you consider going now? Any questions for me about our experience? Please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

happy day westchester cliffs rope

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