RoKC climbing gym opened its doors in April over in North Kansas City. All owners and investors are all natives to KC with a commitment to grow the local climbing community. This world class climbing facility is not just for climbers but for everyone. Even newbies like me!
The look of the facility is very industrial – it is located in an old warehouse building. There are a ton of windows, which makes the natural light absolutely stunning. Especially when it bounces off the colorful climbing walls.
Inside the facility, you’ll find the following:
- Top rope/lead walls/auto belays: sustained overhands, roofs, slabs, and cracks up to 40 ft. tall
- Bouldering: caves, slabs, and overhangs
- Training: system boards, campus boards, fitness center, yoga studio
- Other features: lockers, showers, community area, birthday party room, multipurpose room, private classroom and pro shop
Founder Andrew Potter began climbing at a young age in Germany, where his father was stationed. As a junior at the University of Central Missouri, he co-founded the UCM Climbing Club, and led trips all over the Midwest. Since college, Andrew has made three trips to Afghanistan as Captain in the 75th Ranger Regiment but his newest mission is RoKC. He owns the climbing gym with his brother Frank Potter.
Chance (my fiance) and I were extremely lucky to get our first climbing lesson from Andrew. Let me tell you, Andrew makes it look incredibly easy. We started off bouldering, which is a form of rock climbing that is performed without the use of ropes or harnesses. All you need to boulder are climbing shoes and maybe a bag of chalk for your hands. You do this over safety mats so no worries if you fall. The routes are short but tricky – using balance, technique, strength, and your brain.
Andrew coached us on some pretty basic routes. Each route is labeled and graded (ranked). Every boulder climb is essentially a problem that has a solution that you have to solve to make it to the top. During this session, Andrew would “beta” routes for us (show us the way) so that we could have guidance on the more difficult climbs. Naturally, Chance was better at bouldering than me. Ya, we’re pretty competitive.
Through my experience, I found that climbing isn’t all about arm strength. You have to use your legs and flexibility helps you tremendously. Keeping your hips close to the wall also helps lesson the blow to your arms and helps you maneuver swiftly. You’ll also exercise rarely used muscles like your forearms and under arm back muscles. Boulder-speak can be a little foreign but this handy guide is way helpful!
We finished the day on a taller wall with auto belays. This makes indoor climbing simple and easy. Auto-belay simply takes up the slack when a participant starts to climb up the climbing wall. Once the participant is done climbing, the pressure from the auto-belay will safely lower the participant slowly to the ground. The first go I was a little frightened when I got close to the top but after a few attempts, I got more comfortable and confident. I had no idea that I had a slight fear of heights.
Overall my experience was SO fun and I highly recommend it to others. I honestly can’t wait to go back or even make it a hobby. I have a lot more to learn and conquer the next time I return! You can tell that Andrew is extremely genuine and community driven, which I think is a reflection of the entire climbing community. I’m so appreciative that they welcomed us with open arms.
Do you love to climb? What is your go-to spot?