Monday, 25 March 2013

Calgary Climbing Walls for Kids: Belays and Basketballs at Mount Royal University

It may lack the atmosphere and cred of a standalone climbing center, and it may not be as big in terms of number of walls, but the climbing center at Mount Royal University makes up for this with access to the climbing wall, recreation center gyms, the swimming pool and more at no additional cost.

Like most recreation centers, the climbing wall at Mount Royal is definitely family-friendly. If you aren't a regular climbers and just want to have a couple hours of fun climbing with your kids, but find most climbing centers intimidating, Mount Royal is for you. The Saturday afternoon we were there, we shared the 40-foot walls with a 7-year-old's birthday part and a handful of "serious" (but friendly) climbers who were more than happy to give us advice on which walls were easiest. Mount Royal also offers a number of child/youth climbing courses and other programs, as well as an introductory course for adults that will teach you everything you need to know to belay your kids.

On this Saturday, we chose the climbing center at Mount Royal because our sons had climbed the there at summer camps the year before. Michael, now 8, has even said that he wants to go to Mount Royal when he's older because they a climbing wall. (Note to self: take boys climbing at the University of Calgary to expand their educational horizons.) New climbing walls mean passing new belay tests, so while we were demonstrating our ability to keep our kids and each other from hitting the floor, Michael and Mack got a head start with a little bouldering. Once our test passed, the boys tied themselves in, we checked their knots, they checked our belay set ups, and we spent two hours top roping various routes before Mack and Michael said they'd had enough.

But we weren't done for day. As we were gathering up our stuff, Michael announced he wanted to do more sports. At Mount Royal the drop-in fee includes use of the entire facility, not just the climbing wall. Had we known this, we would have packed a little differently. The only footwear I had were my day hikers, and Mack was wearing his winter boots. Undeterred, we checked out a basketball (no charge!) and we spent an hour in the main gym playing a game called bumps that Mack taught us. Next time we'll bring our swim suits and maybe racket ball rackets. Or a soccer ball and play a little indoor soccer. And running shoes for everyone.

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