Climbing indoors in Boulder
Boulder Rock Club
Where: 2829 Mapleton Ave.
Cost: Day pass, $15 ($15 students); monthly unlimited, $67 ($33 students)
Info: boulderrockclub.com, 303-447-2804
The Spot Bouldering Gym
Where: 3240 Prairie Ave.
Cost: Day pass, $18 ($14 students); unlimited monthly pass, $75 ($65 for students)
Info: thespotgym.com, 303-379-8806
Movement Climbing and Fitness
Where: 2845 Valmont Road
Cost: Day pass, $20 ($16 students); monthly pass, $88 ($78 students)
Info: movementboulder.com, 303-443-1505
Colorado Athletic Training School
Where: 2400 30th St.
Cost: Drop-in, $20 cash only
Info: catsgym.com, 303-939-9699
Being attached by a rope to a 100-foot rock wall will surely give you a more epic high than any green leaves smoked from a pipe.
Boulder is considered one of the meccas for rock climbing, chock-full of indoor gyms and outdoor hotspots, where dirtbags can get their chalky hands on colored rubber holds and real granite.
The sport, though easily accessible, requires research and skill to prevent serious injuries, especially when you're taking your sport climbing moves outdoors.
While the three main types of climbing in the gym are bouldering, top roping and leading, there are endless possibilities outside, from trad to aid to free soloing to sport climbing.
After moving on from top roping inside, most beginners next take to sport climbing, or climbing a route without being attached to a rope from the top.
Tied to a rope and belayer on the ground, the climber clips into draws placed into bolts and builds an anchor at the top before getting lowered back down to the dirt.
Having the proper gear is pricey but essential, so don't skip gearing up with rock shoes, harnesses, chalk for those sweaty hands, a 60- or 70-meter rope, carabineers and draws, belay devices and helmets. Always bring water, snacks and your belay buddy along.
Also bring your best etiquette to the crag, where you'll likely be surrounded by more experienced climbers trying to send their projects. Don't cross somebody else's routes, wait in line for a route, don't leave your garbage behind, keep track of your equipment and lend your guidebook if someone asks.
Before you head to an area, check to see if a guidebook is available for purchase. It's worth the investment if you plan to return and check out other areas. Otherwise, the site Mountain Project at mountainproject.com has an extensive database of routes across the U.S.
Here are some easy places to start out on real rock:
Eldorado Canyon State Park
South of Boulder, find more than 500 climbing routes on conglomerate sandstone walls in one of the world's most famous areas often called "Eldo." Some walls tower at 700 feet, graced by climbing legends, but the area boasts something for every level. Check out Wind Tower for the classic Calypso, rated 5.6, and Wind Ridge, rated 5.7, routes.
Just west of downtown, enter the mouth of the Boulder Canyon by taking the highway that leads to Nederland, where you'll be surrounded by rock walls and a plethora of crags for about 15 miles. There's hundreds of multipitch lines, short sport routes, ice routes and bouldering problems. Check out The Bihedral for a 100-foot single pitch up Dan's Line, rated 5.8, or a shorter but more challenging 60-foot single pitch up Bosch Blanket Bingo, rated 5.9.
North Table Mountain
After a breathless approach up to the rock columns, you'll be perched with a full view of Golden and the rooftops of Coors Brewing Co.'s buildings. Prepare for almost a full day of sun. You can set up a top route easily on most routes that range between a 5.2 and 5.12, and are generally 60-feet tall. Check out the three-star 45-foot single pitch up Old Roof Route aka Lemons, Limes, and Tangerines, rated 5.8+.
Clear Creek Canyon
About 45 minutes south of Boulder along Colo. 93 in Golden, tap into the great granite sport climbing along the creek. Parking along the road can be tricky, so be careful crossing and hopping guardrails. Check out the East Colfax crag for climbs ranging in grade from a 5.4 to higher than 5.10s and a view and sounds of the rushing water.
Amelia Arvesen: twitter.com/ameliaarvesen