Rogue Rock Gym was founded in 2005 by Matt and Chrysten Lambert who recognized the need for a high quality indoor rock climbing facility in Southern Oregon. Matt the owner and operator of the gym has over 20 years of climbing experience, from scaling big walls in Yosemite National Park, to high alpine mountains in the Himalayas. Matt grew up climbing in high quality indoor gyms in metropolitan areas around the country and modeled his facility after the best of those successful climbing gyms. RRG was Southern Oregon’s first full service indoor climbing gym with 30ft tall walls, over 6,000sq ft of climbing terrain, 33 rope stations, qualified instruction, youth programs, and fitness equipment. Rogue Rock Gym is the largest indoor climbing facility between Sacramento and Portland.
Rogue Rock Gym focuses on providing quality customer service in order to help people of all ages get introduced to rock climbing, and learn the ropes with the highest standard in safety. With over thirty years of combined rockclimbing experience our staff can provide all levels of instruction from the basic ropes to the most advanced rockcraft skills. Indoor climbing gyms are a great place to become introduced to the sport and learn the skills to be a safe climber in a controlled environment. For some climbers indoor climbing is a sport in itself, while for other experienced outdoor climbers the gym is a place to train when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Indoor climbing is a great full body workout that tones your muscles and improves flexibility. The best part is that you don’t even realize you are working out because it’s so much fun, you only realize it the next day when your muscles are too sore to move!
The gym is a great place to get connected with other climbers in the community, make new friends and long lasting climbing partnerships. Rogue RockGym maintains a group of two to three hundred regular members by providing an excellent product, our climbing routes! At any given time there are hundreds of climbing routes, or paths of all difficulty levels up our walls. Two-year-old children have scaled our easiest walls, yet we have climbing routes which are nearly impossible for even the best climbers. We take pride in creating excellent climbing routes that challenge climbing technique and build strength. These routes are changed frequently to always keep things fresh and unique for our regular members, and it is the quality of these routes that keeps our regulars coming back for more!
Can you tell me a little bit about how rock gyms came about?
The first indoor rockclimbing gym (Vertical Club now Vertical World) was opened in Seattle in 1987 by avid climbers as a place to stay in shape for climbing during the rainy Seattle winters. The concept took off as an alternative to the conventional fitness gyms and rockwalls began to open around the country. The first indoor climbing walls were rudimentary plywood structures with home-made hand holds. Today’s modern climbing structures use advanced engineering and materials to create realistic rock walls that feel like actual stone.
How has the interest in this type of climbing increased over the past few years?
Indoor climbing facilities have brought rock climbing as a sport into the mainstream and made the joy of rock climbing accessible for the general public regardless of skill or experience level. The indoor climbing gym is a prefect place to learn safe climbing skills in a controlled environment with professional instruction. This gives newcomers to rock climbing the tools to climb on their own on real rocks. Many rockclimbing gym members use gym climbing as their primary exercise routine because it is great for general strength and fitness, and it’s an alternative to running treadmills and lifting weights in a standard health club.
How long did it take you guys to build this space? This place is huge… can you tell us a little bit about how you did the research to pull this all together?
From the concept to opening day took about 6 months. Finding a suitable building with tall ceiliengs was the most chalanging aspect.
Who built all of the internal structures, how was this done.
Our climbing wall was built by Eldorado Wall Company of Boulder Colorado. They are a very proffesional contractor who builds high end rockwalls across the country. Their crew had our wall fully assembled and ready for climbing within 6 weeks. The walls were built with solid welded steel framework covered in plywood and a proprietary rock-like concrete mix.
Where did you learn from?
I’ve been rockclimbing for over twenty years now, and was self taught as a young teenager. Living in Chicago during high school my only option was to go indoor climbing and I would drive about an hour to the closest rockgym a few days a week. In 1999 I started working for Vertical World in Seattle where I was trained in climbing instruction and gym operation. The Vertical World organization was instrumental in developing the current standards in the indoor rockclimbing industry and the owner is currently one of the key leaders of the Climbing Wall Association which sets the indusrty standards of procedure which Rogue Rock Gym follows.
Kids love to climb and this seems like an excellent way for them to enjoy them selves. Will tell me a little bit more about the services you offer the community specifically around kids?
We work with kids all the time, they get the most out of climbing in terms of enjoyment and self confidence. It is a healthy and safe activity that gets them away from video games and bad influences. Our youth programs include birthday parties, an after school climbing club, and a rockclimbing team which travels to competitions around the Pacific Northwest. Several of our top competitors have been invited to climb at the National competitive level.
If you are afraid of heights should you climb? Does this fear ever go away?
People who are afraid of heights get the most out of rock climbing, hands down. They face the biggest challange while scaling the wall, and if they can push through the fear, trust the ropes and their partners, and reach the top of the wall they get the biggest reward and satisfaction. The fear ussualy goes away once you learn to trust the equipment and your partner. Succeeding at a hard rockclimb gives you a natural high and feeling accomplishment that sticks with you….then it’s on to the next difficult challange…it’s addictive!
How do you find your personal best in climbing?
I get the most out of climbing when I am challanged to the point of nearly giving up and facing the possibility of failure. At that breaking point you really have to summon determination that comes from deep inside. If you believe in yourself enough to break through that wall and realize that you can do what it takes to reach the summit, there is no greater reward.
What safety measures do you take to insure that climbs go safely?
The most important way to stay safe in climbing is to prepare yourself by learning all of the safest methods. Climbing isn’t something that you can just “wing it” and hope to stay safe, climbing is inheriently dangerous. It’s like the sport of diving, you wouldn’t just throw on a tank and dive to the bottom of the ocean without proper traning and building experience, climbing should be approached in the same way. You can manage the risk by educating yourself and being vigilant about safety. There is no substitute for professional training in rock climbing, and Rogue Rock Gym has the most experienced instructors in Southern Oregon.
How can parents get involoved with and support their kids in learning how to climb?
Climbing is an excellent activity to do with your kids! We strongly encourage parents to take our ‘Basic Ropes” class which teaches the skill of belaying. Once they’ve learned this skill, which only takes about 1hr, they can hold the ropes for their own kids and coach them up the wall. It is a great bonding experience between parents and children.
Do you have any special events or classes you would like to share with our readers?
There is always lots going on at our gym, we host competitions that are free for spectators, we can teach any skill for any aspect of climbing, and we can take people outdoors to climb on the beautiful cliffs in Southern Oregon. Please visit our website for more details on all of our programs or feel free to call and speak with one of our friendly staff. Stop by the gym, you have to see the wall in person to appreciate what it has to offer!