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Monday, March 21, 2011

A Rock Gym Grows in Hadley

Greetings! I have the honor of creating the first guest post on MH. It's probably nepotism: I also bear the honor of being "Mr. Madley." (I'm more well-known around the Web as Velosopher, proprietor of a blog about cycling, sport psychology, and the active life. Go here for a peek.)

I'm here to report on an exciting new development in Hadley: the grand opening of Central Rock Climbing Center, at 165 Russell Street/Route 9.

I don't have any experience with dedicated rock gyms, but years ago, while living in Taos, NM, I enjoyed tremendously climbing both outdoors and in. I also continued for a while after moving east to the Boston area. For years now, I've been missing it, so when I saw the CRCC building being constructed just down the street from us this winter, I got excited, and set about finding a replacement pair of climbing shoes on Craigslist.

Mrs. M. and I stopped by the gym shortly after they opened for business a few weeks ago. It was about 8:00 on a Friday night, and the generous parking lot was nearly full. Inside the cavernous building, crowds of folks were clambering up all manner of pseudo-rock formations, jutting out or overhanging in every direction. It really feels like a giant crag somewhere in the back of beyond, except there are hundreds of multicolored hand- and foot-holds on the rock wall, mats on the floors and giant lights in the ceiling. The vibe was friendly, and the place was clean and sharp-looking.

 Abutments and overhangs everywhere.
At Central Rock, you can take climbing lessons, or learn to belay (hold the safety rope for another climber). If you're more of a lone wolf, there's lots of wall dedicated to bouldering, which is stripped-down climbing on lower-lying rock, with no rope or hardware needed. Bouldering's a bit cheaper by the hour, and if you bike to the gym with your gear, you get yet another couple bucks off -- an incentive of which I naturally approve.

Solving a bouldering problem. (Notice the thick mat below.)
You can climb as late as eleven o'clock or even midnight on various nights, and they also host sleepovers for parties of kids or teens -- a great way to spice up those cold New England nights. There's tons of comfortable space for adults or significant others to hang out and watch the action.

Think about stopping by the grand opening on April 2nd; they'll have door prizes, a raffle and a band. They're in that large, warehouse-looking building you've seen going up all winter, just west of the Hadley Garden Center.

As the belayers like to say, "Climb on!"

The rope (trailing the climber) will safely stop a fall.

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