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Climbing the Walls: Five Gyms for Rock Climbing and Bouldering

Betas, rock problems, chalk bags, lead climbing, toe holds and more.
By - Photos: Angela Leung Jul 20, 2020 Sports & Recreation
Shanghai has a strong lineup of top rope and lead climbing walls, the tall ones with a harness, and bouldering, short walls, no harness. Be warned it’s easy to develop a climbing habit. Talk to a climber and hear about the adrenaline-fueled thrill of solving a puzzle and conquering nature.

If you are already an enthusiast and looking for your niche, the city’s concrete jungle has lots of synthetic rocks to climb. These aren’t just stand-alone walls, like the free bouldering wall at West Bund, or the touristy Mt. Mall we scaled last winter, rather these are enclosed gym ecosystems covered with colorful holds.

Most of the gyms open by the afternoon on weekdays and for the full day on weekends. Check the venue listings for exact times.

Magirock Climbing Gym

3/F, 340 Hankou Lu, near Shandong Zhong Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

The Facility: Magirock was one of the earliest indoor climbing facilities in Shanghai. They have both "top rope" — where the rope suspends climbers from the top of the wall — and also do the more advanced lead climbing where the climber clips the rope into bolts as they climb up the wall.

The tall walls are half human-powered rope belaying and half auto belay machine routes along with shorter bouldering walls. The second floor has shorter walls for kids’ classes and training. Tallest walls are about 15 meters. Magirock operates a remote location at InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland in Songjiang, a natural wall 88 meters below the horizon if you’re craving some real rocks, and they organize climbing trips to climb the mountains in Zhejiang.

Finding the entrance might be a bit confusing. Magirock is located on the third floor of Citizens Fitness Center of Huangpu District. Enter the building on Hankou Lu across from The Press.

The Price: A full-day pass is 120rmb including shoes and harness rental. You get a deal at 800rmb for a 10-time pass that is valid for 90 days excluding equipment rental. A beginner class including belay orientation costs 200rmb per hour for three people maximum.

Beta Boulders Gym

667 Changhua Lu, near Anyuan Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

The Facility: Beta Boulders is located in the modern sports warehouse Anken Life. The center also houses boxing, mixed martial arts, crossfit, a café and skate and snowboard shop. Anken has free lockers in their hotel-quality locker rooms that are equipped with a sauna, showers and towels.

As the name suggests it’s just bouldering here, no rope or harness needed. Beta Boulders opened in March 2020 and is owned and operated by the former manager of Pongo (see below). The gym boasts the first and only Kilter board in Shanghai. The Kilter is a tech training wall that can tilt to differing angles. Routes are selected on the app and the matching holds are lit up on the wall. The app connects to all other kilter boards around the world, allowing users to share routes and strategy (aka betas).

Routes will be set by specialists invited from Japan and Malaysia once travel resumes. Every fortnight a fourth of the routes are reset. Make a reservation on their WeChat (Beta-Boulders-Gym) for climbing times after 6pm on weekdays and during the daytime on weekends. No reservation is needed for other times.

The Price: A day pass costs 90rmb, weekends are 100rmb, monthly passes cost 500rmb. Shoe rental is 10rmb. Beta also offers beginner individual classes for 399rmb for three 1-hour classes, or group class of up to three people for 899rmb for three 1.5-hour classes.

Roaring Climbing Gym

128 Huayuan Lu, near Jingxiang Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

The Facility: This climbing center near Hongkou Football Stadium has six bouldering walls and four auto belay top rope routes. It's inside an old factory complex that's been converted into an afterschool center -- there's an indoor basketball court, a snooker club, badminton and table tennis, guzheng classes, dance studio, education consulting, art studios, pet café, normal café.

The tallest walls are 7.5m, or four meters for bouldering — on the smaller side. Still it has all the necessities. And air-con! Roaring Climbing Gym has a strong community vibe with a whiteboard by the door announcing an upcoming climbing trip to Hangzhou. The clientele seems to lean kid-heavy especially in the summer; when we visited on a weekday afternoon the only employee was busy teaching a class of kids.

The Price: A day pass costs 100rmb including shoe rental, or 75rmb for members. A ten-time card is 650rmb, or 600rmb for students. Call ahead for gym times as there may be a class in session.

Pongo Climbing Gym

No. 26, Lane 833 Zhizaoju Lu, near Zhongshan Nan Yi Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

The Facility: Pongo is a bouldering gym tucked inside an old lane, usually packed with experienced climbers and serious hobbyists. Occasionally there will be a star sighting; famous climbers drop in when they are in Shanghai. Not a huge space, but the biggest bouldering gym in the city. The place feels vibrant, comfortable, and amiable – even if you’re a beginner, you won’t feel too intimidated.

The majority of their holds are imported from Europe, set up for over 100 boulder problems for all abilities, with new problems set each month by the in-house coaches. Approximately every four months, the International Federation of Sport Climbing Route Setters will visit and set new boulder problems.

The Price: A full-day pass is 80rmb during the week, 90rmb on the weekends. You can rent shoes or a chalk bag at 10rmb each. Mondays are half price for female climbers. A ten-time card is 700rmb, one-month pass is 600rmb. They host group classes on Sunday evenings covering beginner skills; register on their WeChat (pongoclimbing2016). The class instruction is 100rmb, plus entry fee and rentals.

Park Climbing Gym

199 Yangzhai Lu, near Kaixuan Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

The Facility: Tall climbing walls and bouldering. Wall height is about 20 meters, painted with a giant, colorful gecko – it’s good for photographs. There are many different routes at different levels, with plenty for beginners. They say 80% of first-timers can make it to the top. There’s also a fun rope ladder swinging in the air to try out.

During the day there are mostly kids and some pros doing their own thing, but it can get quite busy in the evenings and weekends. Unfortunately, there's no air-con so it can get hot hot hot in summer.

The Price: 110rmb for a full day pass, 20rmb more for shoes and harness. Or buy a deal for 1,100rmb which gets you in 13 times but does not include equipment rental.

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