Advice about Climbing

Parent Q&A

  • 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.

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    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!

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    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.

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    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!

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

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

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    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!

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    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.

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

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

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    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. 

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

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

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    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.

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    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.

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    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.  

    RE: Climbing spots for 5 year old? ()

    Check with Bridges Rock Gym in El Cerrito.

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  • climbing harness for pregnancy

    (5 replies)

    Does anyone know where I could find a climbing harness that will fit me for the next few months, now that my regular one doesn't? I know I could buy one online, but most places don't allow you to return climbing gear - I'm short (5'2") so I want to make sure the harness fits before I spend $100+ on it. I've called a couple local stores, but haven't found anyone that carries them yet.

    RE: climbing harness for pregnancy ()

    If you belong to the Touchstone climbing gyms, each gym has one or two available for free for members to use while climbing. Even if you aren't a member, I bet the front desk staff would let you try their harnesses on to see how they fit - they're pretty nice there.

    I'm 5'4" and have had no problem fitting into any of the pregnancy harnesses I've tried - they're very adjustable.

    RE: climbing harness for pregnancy ()

    I was looking into this when I was pregnant last year. Berkeley Ironworks has several you can rent on the premises. I'm 5'1' and had to tighten the harness to the tightest setting and almost considered using a larger child's harness. If you find yourself in the same boat, Ironworks might have those too, as does REI.

    RE: climbing harness for pregnancy ()

    If you are climbing indoors at touchstone gyms they have pregnancy harnesses that you can borrow. That's what I did!

    RE: climbing harness for pregnancy ()

    REI and Sports Basement carry harnesses.  Keep climbing!

    RE: climbing harness for pregnancy ()

    I'm almost positive the touchstone gyms usually have a rental they'll let you use. My wife used one and I see multiple women using one as well.

    New replies are no longer being accepted.

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

Outdoor rockclimbing in Bay Area?

Jan 2008

I have a guest coming from the east coast for the holidays who is I think an experienced rock climber. She won't have much time but was hoping to find a place not much more than an hour away to just see what the rock looks like out here and asked me for suggestions. I know NOTHING about rock climbing. Anyone have suggestions? Thanks!!!! Anon

I've seen real rock climbers at the sheer side of Indian Rock in Berkeley. Also Mt. Diablo has rock climbing - Boy Scout Rock, Sentinel Rock, and a fun place for all ages called Rock City. Rebecca

There's a popular place for low-key rock climbing with a view in the Berkeley Hills - Indian Rock Park above the Arlington and Marin. Good for sunset viewing too. Map it on google for specific directions.

A couple favorite local spots are at Mt. Diablo and Castle Rock. However there's this awesome list someone put together that's a big help at the link below. Have fun!

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.