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Warmer Climbs

Saluting those who want to rock climb.


In a time when the corporate ladder is the only climbing most city slickers manage, our instinctual urge to climb is being squashed. Luckily, Peninsula hotspot Kendall Cliffs is helping locals live on the edge -- or at least try to scale it.

Designed by the climbing supply company Nicros, the 7,000-square-foot facility is "the only professionally designed and built rock gym in Ohio," as the brochure puts it.

"They've built other walls, though," says Kendall manager Dave Fausnite. "They've built one at Kent, at their Wellness Center."

But don't let the advertising confuse you: Kendall Cliffs still offers a unique array of climbing surfaces and the feel of a top-notch facility. The walls are huge, the amenities clean, and the staff willing to help anyone with the vertical shimmy. The most unusual features of the gym are a 35-foot arch that traverses the span of the ceiling and a large rock bouldering cave, perfect for training.

"Most places have a bouldering cave, but not many have them made out of the artificial rock, which makes it a lot more realistic," says Fausnite. "It really gives you the feel of the outside more than regular plywall would."

Instruction for all levels of climbing is available for nearly every age group. Kendall offers three hands-on training courses, including family lessons -- in which three-year-olds have participated ("They do more swinging than climbing at that age," says Fausnite) -- and Lead Climbing 101 for fully grown primates.

"It's just something different to do," says climber Erica Oswick. "I mean, you can climb almost anything around here. It works your muscles, and it's a challenge."

Management does not suggest you climb everything, though. Once they provide visitors with rented equipment, they point out the surfaces that are available for climbing. And if the climbing isn't enough, there's always ladies' night on Fridays, when females get in for half-price.

Unfortunately for the gents, admits Fausnite, "Rock gyms aren't a good place to meet girls."

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