Let’s start this out by being very clear on one thing: Michelle I were members at Vertical World for a few months almost a year ago, and after moving south and canceling our membership, we’ve been back a couple of times to climb with visiting guests. We never truly felt welcomed at Vertical World, and always felt like outsiders.
As a result of our Vertical World experience, I personally have been a little soured by the local climbing community and lost almost all interest in being involved in it. But for some time we have talked about checking out Edgeworks down in Tacoma. With where we live now, it’s the closest climbing gym to our house.
We finally pulled the trigger and checked out Edgeworks this afternoon.
We arrived about 3:45 in the afternoon, and to no surprise the place was quite empty. Andy Davis was working the front desk, and was very warm and welcoming upon our arrival. We chatted for a few minutes, he talked about the gym and procedures, and told us to get geared up so we could get the belay test out of the way. Previous experiences with needing to do this have proven frustrating, as we’ve had to stand around for long periods of time waiting for someone to administer the quick test. Maybe it’s because the gym was slow at the moment, but Andy went through the belay test with us as soon as we had our harnesses on, no waiting required. I appreciated this. Upon finishing the test, we sent us on our way to enjoy the gym on our own.
Edgeworks has a pretty nice facility if you aren’t comparing it to the new, state-of-the-art building Vertical World has in Seattle. Truth be told, it reminded me a lot of Sportrock Sterling, which I liked. The walls are a bit shorter (25 ft. top-rope routes and 35 ft. lead climbing routes), but considering my strength and endurance are pretty low right now, I didn’t have a problem with the wall height. In fact, you could even say I welcomed it.
Edgeworks also has some auto-belay systems, which is nice for those days you want to climb by yourself. I climbed several routes on the auto-belay systems. This also reminded me of Sportrock Sterling, before they had to get rid of their auto-belay devices due to recalls.
After about an hour we walked back over to the desk and asked if it would be possible to take the lead belay test. Andy said, “absolutely, except I’m the only person working the front desk right now. Let me see what I can do.” In less than a minute he’d found an off-duty staff member to watch the desk while he administered the lead belay test. I really appreciated this as well (especially compared with my last experience with Sportrock Alexandria where it practically took all night to do my belay and lead belay tests, after their stupid system lost my previous certifications). We chatted some more while doing the test; talked about climbing, personal climbing habits, etc. Andy didn’t rush us through the test, and had a couple of helpful tips and critiques along the way.
We climbed for another hour before calling it quits. We stopped by the front desk and chatted with Andy one more time about our options for coming back and what made the most sense. He explained the options and didn’t push us towards making a decision. We ultimately decided not to pull the trigger on anything yet because Michelle is still in training for another month for her new job, and we just don’t know what our schedule will be like until she is done with that. Andy did invite and encourage us to come back next Tuesday for $5 Day Pass and beer, a regular thing every 3rd Tuesday of the month. Uhhh, yes please?
At the end of the day, our trip to Edgeworks was by far the most pleasant and enjoyable climbing gym experience we’ve had since moving to Washington. Edgeworks felt more much “homey” and welcoming than Vertical World. It reminded me a lot of Sportrock Sterling, which really struck a chord with me. I think we are both looking forward to going back, and with any luck we’ll actually meet some people and make some new friends.1