I’m afraid of heights. Like really, really afraid of heights. So naturally, I said yes when Mesa Rim, a new indoor climbing center in Reno, invited me to check out its 50-foot walls. Face your fears, right? Besides, I’d be harnessed, and a professional would be on the other end of my rope making sure I don’t plummet to my death, right? And my daughters were dying to try it. They’re really cute and hard to say no to. So I said yes.
I was actually really looking forward to trying climbing, despite my staggering acrophobia. Mesa Rim co-founder Marlowe Kulley gave us a tour of the facility (including yoga studio!) and helped with a few trial climbs before my official belay lesson. Yeah, it turns out this is a DIY location so if you want to climb, you have to know the climbing and the belaying ends of the rope (lessons are $9 for non-members, and you get to stay all day after your lesson). This was the first thing that really struck me about Mesa Rim: they don’t let you passively participate in the sport, they teach you how to fully engage it in and take your safety into your own hands. Stop and think about that. This is not entertainment, this is a challenge, and they make you own it!
After my lesson, as I belayed my 8- and 10-year-olds, I found this so extremely empowering. I’m kind of a wimpy mom. I’m 5’3″ and while adventurous, I’m not exactly She-Ra. I leave the heavy lifting to my husband and, yes, I made him open stubborn jar lids. But THIS, this I could do! I felt so empowered as I checked my daughters’ ropes and harnesses and became responsible for their safety as they scaled the 52-foot verticals. We don’t have to wait around for my husband to climb with us, or meekly ask for some help from staff or other climbers (although you can sign up for a climbing partner when you get there if you don’t have anyone to belay for you). I can take them climbing and I have the knowledge and tools to do it myself. I cannot emphasize enough what a light bulb moment that was for me.
So I learned I have mountain goats for children, and they easily scurried up the walls of even the intermediate routes. The climbing routes are rated on a numeral system of difficulty, so you can look at a wall and its rating and know if it’s doable for you. But what about me? Turns out that confronting your fear doesn’t make it go away. I got about 2/3 up the wall several times and hit a psychological wall where I just couldn’t bring myself to climb any higher. And that means that I can’t wait to go back and break through that wall in my head. Who gets 2/3 the way to their goal and quits? Apparently this girl, but I’m working on it!
There’s also a bouldering area where you scale the much-shorter walls harness-free. This was a ton of fun for my daughters and me (I even reached the top!) and probably among the highlights of our summer. This was the second thing that really struck me about Mesa Rim: they encourage kids (and adults!) to have fun. Try an outcropping you’ve never tried before. Fall and bounce off the super-padded floor and try it again. Laugh. Good lord, my daughters laughed and squealed and did NOT use their indoor voices. And that was totally ok.
They keep begging to go back, and unlike most of the other things they beg me for, I have no reason to say no. Bonus: my body was SORE the next few days. It’s a good feeling when you’re having so much fun that you don’t even notice the workout you’re getting!
Mesa Rim’s Harvard Way location is easy to get to off Plumb Lane, and the brand-new building stands out so you can’t possibly miss it. It boasts 23,000 square feet of climbing terrain, a retail area, yoga studio, cardio equipment, sauna, and locker rooms. You can purchase a day pass or spring for a membership, which includes unlimited access to all the classes offered. Non-member day passes are $19 for adults, with discounted prices for youth, kids, military, and first-responders. Check out the website at www.mesarim.com/reno for full details on pricing and programs.