The Gym Scene


It's hot around here in the summer. You can go to East Animas in the morning or any of the climbing areas with shade, but even then, you're still greasing off by 11am.

Kassi Kuss, 5, gym rat and dirtbag climber
Kassi Kuss, 5, gym rat and dirtbag climber

If you gotta work in the morning, that leaves you the weekend to climb which means your comfortable/climbable time is down to a few hours. Fall, Winter and Spring is the climbing season in these parts. Or you can go to The Rock Lounge. Cause they got AC, yo.


The number of good routes packed into that little gym is really impressive. The terrain is really good and the owners, Marcus and Tambri Garcia, have been consistently upgrading the walls. The route setters are really good as well, creating lines of fun, flowing moves that seem to work the muscles in just the right way. There is a range of difficulty from 5.6 to 13d, and bouldering from v-0 to v-10 (at the moment). And that's the beauty of it- you're not going to show up there saying "dang, what should we climb? I've done all these routes like 10,000 times". That can be rough on the motivation. Getting to the gym you're like "oh, check it out! Three new routes and three new boulder problems!"

Skylar Smith working the bouldering wall at The Rock Lounge. Skylar is ranked 13th in the nation in his age category.
Skylar Smith, 16, training for his 5th USA CLIMBING Nationals. Skylar is ranked 6th in the nation in his age category. He's been training with Marcus for  5 years.


It's an interesting scene. You'll see people that you never see at the crag. And they're climbing way harder than you (a personal observation). That's certainly a curiosity. They're all cute, and have haircuts. Sometimes a true climber-dirtbag will show up and you're all "dang, what's that smell?" It's rarely crowded and unless you hit it just at the wrong time, you'll have the place to yourself. If you're there when the climbing team shows up, you should be prepared to have your mind blown, ok? Bunch of skinny kids who can freakin CRANK. Why is that?




Charlie Malone training at The Rock Lounge. Charlie consistently places among the top competitors is his division, and is one of the strongest climbers in Durango
Charlie Malone, 17, training for his first USA CLIMBING Nationals. Charlie consistently places among the top competitors is his division, and is among the strongest climbers in Durango


For the Durango Climbing Team, the competition season is nearly finished. The final divisional competition was recently held in Utah, with Skylar Smith and Charlie Malone advancing to the National Finals in Atlanta Georgia. To witness these guys climb and train is completely inspiring. They're like fifteen years old, redpointing up to 5.14 and bouldering v-10. They train hard, pulling laps on the system board with weighted vests and diligently following coaches Marcus Garcia and Adam Merkert's obviously excellent training plan. These guys have only begun to make their mark on the Durango climbing scene. We can hope that they will find some suitable new rock where they can push Durango's standard.

Markus Garcia, owner and trainer at The Rock Lounge with some coaching advice for Soma Smith.
Marcus Garcia, owner and trainer at The Rock Lounge with some coaching advice for Soma Smith. She's been training with Marcus for 3 years.



Kids have a great time there. When you're only three or four feet tall, it's hard to find rock that's climbable at so many areas. This is such a great way to get into climbing for them. Youngsters are such great climbers, right out of the box. Especially little girls, with their light frames and natural ability to use their balance, agility and perception. It's climbing, but still a bit more of a controlled environment than most outdoor crags. One of the best parts is that there's other little gym rats there too, which somehow make them stop whining and power on!

Anna Badger from Austin Tx. bouldering some v-0
Anna Badger from Austin Tx. bouldering some v-0


Indoor climbing has grown up respectively since the early days. The holds and terrain are more sophisticated than ever and training for climbing has been refined and is a rising trend. Competitive climbing proponents are now working to get climbing into the Olympic Games, where it would certainly demonstrate that climbers as athletes are equally, if not more, impressive than any sports showcased there.  There is no doubt that what has been accomplished by the best climbers on rock are among the sickest sends ever executed by humans in any regard. The fact is, most of the top climbers today are also gym climbers to a large extent. 

Gym rats at play
Gym rats at play

Everyone wants to be a better climber. That's what it's about- feeling good on the send, feeling strong and flowing mentally, being in shape for that long adventure. Climbing gyms aren't just for mutants and city kids anymore! As we are lucky to have our diversity of rock areas, here in Durango, same goes for the rock gym.

-Tim Kuss

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