Indoor rock climbing is one of the many ways to build your fitness in Medellin. It’s much more exciting than running on a treadmill for an hour but not as risky as outdoor climbing.
I got the chance to visit Medellin’s indoor climbing facility El Muro and learn all about one of the city’s most thrilling sports, as well as have a go myself!
About El Muro Climbing Center
The Laureles center was founded 20 years ago by Colombian rock climbing expert Gerson Areiza. His goal was to introduce climbing to new audiences and provide a safe space for climbers of all ages to practice and have fun.
The two-story building is hard to miss, illuminating its residential street with a bright orange exterior. The climbing space itself is one medium-sized room broken into four sections.
It has tall walls, perfect for rope and harness climbing, and smaller walls for more focused practice.
If you want to build some strength before climbing, you can head upstairs to the mini gym. Equipped with free weights, suspension ropes, and yoga balls, it’s a great place for a pre-game workout.
It feels very homey with a kitchen, balcony, and indoor plants. It exudes a warm family-type vibe. The group sessions, outdoor excursions, and regular meet-ups help foster a friendly and close-knit community.
When I asked instructor Sergio if the storage shelves were lockable, he replied, “sure, but don’t worry; you won’t need it here!’
Proximity to Casacol Properties
Because it’s centrally located in Laureles, it’s easy to get to this place from Factory Lofts or any other local Casacol properties in Laureles. In fact, you can actually walk there in about 15 minutes!
If you’re not feeling up for the double workout of walking there and back, you can always take a rideshare app. If you go that route, it’ll only take you about five minutes to get to the center.
Pro tip: Once you get done with a climbing session at El Muro, take the metro to Poblado for a sports message at the Celestino Spa. It’s totally worth it, and will have you feeling brand new!
What is a Session Like?
After ringing the buzzer, you will be welcomed in and led upstairs to the reception. You will be asked if you need climbing shoes. If you’re a beginner like me, then the answer is yes.
The climbing shoes are very different from normal sneakers. I found that they dramatically affect how well you grip the wall with your feet.
Once I had put my things in the locker, instructor Sergio led me downstairs. He has built up 18 years of climbing experience. After diligently explaining the basics to me, I was off!
Now, El Muro offers guided sessions with instructors and courses. However, I opted for a solo climb. Here I could get a climbing taster and, naturally, figure things out on my own, which I prefer.
How To Climb?
Grips or ‘dams’ are colorful artificial stones that are securely drilled into the walls. They follow a range of unique shapes and sizes. You grab onto these, with your feet and hands, to climb.
They cover every inch of the walls, meaning you can literally scale the ceiling!
However, it takes incredible upper body strength to glide along the ceiling like Spiderman; not that I didn’t try.
Remembering Sergio’s wise words, I horizontally made my way across the walls, my feet clinging onto whatever grips I could find, my mind strategically analyzing every next move, and my hands feeling around for the best grip.
Don’t worry about falling! On most walls, you’ll only be a meter or two from the matted ground. You’ll also feel when you are about to fall and can quickly plan for the safest landing.
Climbing the Big Walls
Big wall climbing is probably the most notorious form of the sport. Images of experts scaling 1500ft mountain sides probably come to mind.
Although it is more perilous, it comes with a greater reward and sense of accomplishment.
El Muro’s tallest big wall, standing at a considerable 8 meters high, is an excellent introduction to this form of climbing.
I wouldn’t recommend it to a complete beginner, but if you want a challenge, you’ll first need a spotting partner and a harness and rope. You can rent both from El Muro.
Types Of Sessions
As mentioned before, El Muro offers an extensive range of sessions and courses, from basic solo climbs to advanced courses and group training:
Climbing day (1 day pass)
Climbing day + shoes (1 day pass)
Climbing session with instructor
For more rates and details, have a look at the El Muro website.
What To Wear
Most climbers wear loose, breathable clothing like shorts, t-shirts, and long pants. It’s important that you feel comfortable and the clothing doesn’t restrict your movement.
You may want to ensure your knees are protected by wearing pants that cover that area. For ladies, stretchy leggings should be fine for your first few sessions.
Don’t worry about footwear, as you can rent climbing shoes from El Muro!