Scaling the Walls at Tempe's ClimbMax

Not all Phoenix fun comes with dim lighting and fancy cocktails. Sometimes, there's nothing better than endorphins, sunshine, and sweat. Lover of all things outdoors, The Outsider explores the more natural side of Phoenix.

Following the hubbub caused by Climbmax climbing gym's brief closure and sudden re-opening a few weeks ago, we decided to check out what all the fuss was about. Our first impression: Employees are easy-going (and nice to look at) and more than ready to help first-timers and pros alike. 

Being first-time climbers, we walked in with a confident confession: "We have no idea what we're doing." And without fail, our helpful guide taught us how to lace, harness up, tie a figure-eight knot, and attempt to scale the wall like the rest of 'em.

How did the climbing go? Find out after the jump.

The Spot: ClimbMax Gym located at 1330 West Auto Drive, Suite 108 in Tempe. Visit their website here.

The Price: $12 per day or $18 per day with gear. Monthly memberships are also available.

The Equipment: Wear loose fitting clothing, but not too loose. Bring a pair of socks and any rock climbing gear you may have laying around (harness, carabiner, shoes). We brought socks and rented the rest.

Sweat Factor: Rock-climbing is a lot like going to the gym. You work all the

major muscle groups to the sound of loud grunts and yelling while hoping the studly person next to you doesn't notice your sweat drizzling southward. That said, it's also fun. As if the way up isn't entertaining enough, the way down is an adrenaline rush and test of trust in the person holding the rope on the floor.

The workout targets legs, arms and abs (i.e. the entire body), so it's a great substitute for weight lifting for the gym-hating types.

The Scenery: The venue has a hip vibe. Splashes of bright color and artwork gave the gym a hang-out kind of feel. And the view from the top of a climb is always worthwhile -- even if the view is merely of the climbers below.

Ups and Downs:  Our guide spent at least 20 minutes training us on the safety procedures and rules of climbing. He was relaxed, funny and to the point. The walls feature all difficulty levels and the walk-through cave is an impressive bonus. It was a cool place to hang out, but the high prices may keep us away. Even the monthly membership, at $55 a month, is higher than that of most traditional fitness gyms. 

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