BEST ROCK CLIMBING - 2007
The human urge to climb is a primal one, buried deep inside our monkey brains, yet the sport of rock climbing remains intimidating to newcomers. Most ground-lubbers see it as an unattainable hobby undertaken only by svelte people with bulbous calves, ape-strong fingers, and Volvos full of disposable cash. Wrong, wrong, and wrong, say the admittedly svelte folks at Vertical Endeavors, a massive indoor climbing gym in St. Paul. The friendly and helpful staff train newbies on the art of belaying—a system of knots, pulleys, and shouted messages that allows climbers on the ground to act as counterweight. Beginners looking for a smaller taste of the sport can hit the auto-belays—basically, training wheels for climbers—while more advanced cliffhangers can scamper along the massive overhangs or play in the bouldering cave, where walls are pitched up to 60 degrees. Once you're really hooked, you can attend mini-seminars on knot-tying and climbing techniques, or venture outdoors with the gym's guide team. A daily pass runs $13 on weekdays, $15 on the weekends, plus a $10 fee to rent shoes and a harness.