Rock Climbing for Kids & Teens

Parent Q&A

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  • Climbing lessons for kids

    (5 replies)

    Our kids are very interested in rock climbing, we have no experience.  Are there any gyms/organizations that offer lessons for kids (preferably on a weekend day)?  All I've found so far are gyms that have open hours or adult workshops.  Our kids are 7 and 10.  

    Ironworks has programs for kids. You may need to add them to a waitlist.

    The same company that runs Berkeley iron works has other gyms not too far where there might be additional options for kids programs.

    Great Western Power Co. in Oakland does a Saturday climbing camp for kids. They also did private kids' lessons on weekends in the past (pre-Covid), so maybe they will start doing that again soon.

    The Touchstone gyms do (Berkeley Ironworks, Diablo Rock Gym, etc.)! They have kids classes, camps, teams, and clubs. They also do private lessons for kids or can teach you how to supervise/belay your kids. More info is on their websites: or

  • Rock Climbing for Elementary Kids

    (9 replies)

    Anyone know of a rock climbing course or rock gym that would accept a minor child (with parent)?  Our soon-to-be-3rd-grader is interested in trying rock climbing, but we'd like to start in a more structured/ safe indoor manner.  Yelp failed me.  RedTri too.  Go, BPN!  TYIA.  

    Diablo rock gym in concord has programs for kids 

    All the touchstone gyms (Ironworks, Great Western, Dog Patch, etc) allow minor kids with parents - or at least the did pre-covid. Ironworks is probably the best of those, and the adult will have to pass a belay test to belay the kid. 

    Check out touchstone climbing. They have gyms all over the bay. Plenty of young kids there. I think they even have a youth competitive group as well. 

    Bladium in Alameda is awesome, very kid friendly. They have a Kids Climb session as well as Rock Climbing Camp.

    Our kids loved the climbing gym in downtown Oakland -Great Western Power Company. They have terrific camps, lessons and birthday parties for kids. We also love the Bladium, over in Alameda. Full name: Bladium Sports & Fitness Club. Good luck & keep climbing!


    The Touchstone gyms are great and I highly recommend them! I started taking my stepson when he was 4 years old (he's 13 now), and I've seen kids as young as 2 climbing, plus they have climbing teams and camps. They also have a "kids belay" (where you don't have to know what you're doing, staff wrangle the ropes and keep the kids safe) or "parents belay" where they teach you how to handle the ropes yourself so your child climbs with you. I'm not sure what's going on right now with Covid, but I'd definitely check. There are quite a few Touchstone gyms in the area- here's info for Berkeley ( and Concord (

    Hi! Try one of the touchstone gyms (Berkeley Ironworks, SF mission cliffs, Pacific Pipes in Oakland, etc)

    Bridges Rock Gym in El Cerrito! Our 12 year old son has been going to camps here for the past couple of years, and loves it.  They have excellent youth programs.

    I have to disagree with the recommendation for Bridges for kids, although my kids' experience is from 2017, when we tried two different camps. From my notes at the time: "Climbing is an activity that kids tend to love or hate, according to mom friends. Both my kids (ages 6 & 8) did the half-day camp all week in April 2017 at a cost of $249/each. They really loved the climbing (had not done it before other than at the playground), and liked the leader _____. Unfortunately Bridges started setting up for a big contest on Wednesday of their week, limiting the number of walls the kids could use, to the point of no walls available on Friday. Bridges even ran camp through a power outage on Friday, which I consider a safety foul. I am not a climber and had never set foot in the place before, and found it loud and bro-y. [Daughter] was the only girl camper one day, and in fact was the only female in the place I saw at pickup that day. (She said she hated being the only girl.) Parking tough at pickup time.

    Update for July 2017: I’m just not sure it’s worth the money, and they remain disorganized & bro-y."

    I will never forgot how my 6 year old daughter was sent to the women's locker room by herself in the dark to use the bathroom. She was terrified. The male counselor didn't even have a clue why that would be a problem.

  • Climbing spots for 5 year old?

    (13 replies)

    I'm looking for recommendations of places for a five year old to climb in Berkeley or Oakland.  So far we've only found a few places, such as the rope structure at Ohlone Park, but that's now getting old.  Unfortunately, she's too young for Berkeley Ironworks, for which you have to be 14 or older.  Any suggestions for vertical challenges would be most appreciated.

    Check with Bridges Rock Gym in El Cerrito.

    I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say kids have to be 14 but I've been taking my son and his friends to Berkeley Ironworks (and the other Touchstone gyms) since he was a toddler and he is 10 now.  If you are an experienced climber, taking your child there to climb is no problem at all.  I think the only age restriction is on kids belaying, but I can't imagine you were planning to have your 5 yr old belay anyone.  

    We take our 4 and 6 year olds to Iron Works all the time. They love it. There's also Great Western in Oakland and Bladium in Alameda.

    I'm not sure who told you kids can't climb at Berkeley Ironworks (or their sister gym, Great Western Power Company in uptown Oakland) - I see kids climbing there all the time! 14 might be the age limit for being dropped off on your own to climb & for belaying another person (e.g. keeping them from falling). Either you can belay your child there, or you can sign up for a private lesson for them.

    Check out Rock City on the slopes of Mt. Diablo for free-climbing fun.

    Berkeley Ironworks has a 14 yr limit for belaying, but not for climbing. We've brought our 3 year old climbing there. You would need to get certified to belay her. 

    My kids like A.I.R., Albany's Indoor Rock Gym, near the Pacific Mall by Central Avenue. 

    Dracena Park in Piedmont! They have a rock climbing structure, perfect size for 4-6 year olds. The park is also great for biking/scootering, and there is a nice large grassy area for playing ball or tag.

    Dracena Park in Piedmont has a small outdoor climbing wall, plus other fun equipment perfect for a 5 year old. Bring a bike or scooter for the bike path!

    Indian Rock—up the stairs first on the south side for age 5!

    You don't have to be 14 to climb at Ironworks! I've been taking my child there and other Touchstone gyms, especially Diablo Rock Gym in Concord, to climb since he was 4 and I've seen other kids as young as 2 climbing there. A responsible adult (that's the 14+ requirement you saw) needs to take the belay class and go with the child to basically manage the rope while he climbs. Diablo has "kids belay" on the weekends where staff will belay the kids if you can't or won't learn how yourself.

    Berkeley has some outdoor climbing areas, too, both for bouldering (shorter rocks maybe 10 feet high, no ropes) and top roping (higher walls that need a rope for safety). Start in a gym, though, or take a class before hunting out those areas so you understand how to be safe. Have fun!

    I like to follow this post cuz I'm looking for a place for my 4yo daughter to learn, too. I know Bladium Sports Club on Alameda has climbing walls and instructor for kids, but it requires family membership, if it's not too far for you, it's worth of paying a visit.

    I haven’t been there recently, but my kids used to enjoy the small climbing wall at Dracena Quarry Park in Piedmont. Also, there’s a similar wall at the park in Moeser Lane in El Cerrito — Cerrito Vista Park , I think. And a really nice, big rope structure on the school grounds of Le Conte Elementary School in south Berkeley.Happy climbing!

Parent Reviews

I'm an adult taking rock climbing lessons from a coach, and have not yet enrolled my kids in lessons, but it's a sport that kids pick up and thrive in very easily. I take my kids to local crags and they are agile and excited to climb. Try some climbing lessons. If your student fits the profile of her clientele, check out Emily Taylor's Brown Girls Climbing program.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Rock Climbing Birthday Party?

Dec 2012

I am considering a rock climbing birthday party for my 6 year old. His birthday is in February and I need an indoor option. Has anyone gone to a birthday party at the rock climbing place in Oakland? What about Iron Works in Berkeley? Did the kids have fun? Jennette

My daughter had her 9th birthday party at Bridges Rock Gym in El Cerrito, and it was great. All the kids had a blast -- one of the kids even told me ''this is the best birthday party I have ever been to!'' Their layout works really well for parties -- there is an upstairs loft area where you can set up cake, snacks, etc. Bridges is also smaller & less crowded, and the layout of their bouldering wall is more kid-friendly, too. At the time (this was in 2010), their prices were competitive and their service was good. I don't have any more recent experience with their parties. Haven't been to an Ironworks party in years, but my daughter is on the teen girls' climbing team there and likes it. Staff is definitely friendly and professional. I haven't been to the gym in Oakland. Jennifer

I used to be a member of Berkeley Ironworks and know a lot of families who celebrated birthday parties there. Lots of fun! Courtenay

We held our daughter's 6th birthday party at Bridges Rock Gym in Richmond (right behind the Pacific East Mall). They did a great job coaching the kids and letting them climb. The pizza from the cafe was also very good! Camille

Rock climbing class for 6-year-old

September 2002

My six year old monkey girl would love to do rock climbing. Does anyone know of a class that would be appropriate for a girl her age? One that is safe (physically) that she would not be the only girl in? Thanks.

Recommendation received:

Rock climbing class for 13-year-old

July 2000

This summer, my almost 13 year old daughter intensely enjoyed a three day class in rock climbing, offered by Cal Adventures. Does anyone know where, or how, she might continue with this activity, outdoors, with some degree of supervision or instruction, year round? Are there any (teen or adult) rock climbing clubs, events, or ongoing classes around that anyone knows of?


Recommendations received:

Rock Climbing birthday party

Dec 1997

The Emeryville rockclimbing gym is called City Rock and it's a great place. They do do birthday parties, though they're a bit pricey. Not sure it's advisable for kids younger than 6 or 7. My 9-year old found it when she was 8 and loves it. Nina

From: Wendy

How about rock climbing? Mission Cliffs is in SF (and, BTW, they showed up on Nash Bridges a couple weeks ago). They have little cliffs that my 4 year old was able to climb, and bigger ones for the 8 year olds who had the confidence. The place seems extremely safe, though everyone has to sign a slightly intimidating release of liability. I believe there is a similar place in Emeryville; if you can't find it, just call Mission Cliffs (I believe they are affiliated with each other).

Extra possible bonus: Parents can try climbing, too (separate from the kids!). I think they can do it half price if there's a party their kids are attending.