A Place To Get Your Rocks Off

Volcanic Rock Gym owner Justin Ridgely (left) bouldering along the wall's archway.

Volcanic Rock Gym owner Justin Ridgely (left) bouldering along the wall’s archway.

There is a perception among rock climbers, professional climber Justin Ridgely says, that there are not any good climbing spots in Hawaii. But when he moved here from California a few years ago, he found that just wasn’t true — he knows of more than 50 on Oahu alone.

“They’re all over — some are within five minutes of (downtown Honolulu). Some are on the west side, some are on the North Shore,” says Ridgely.

That misconception, though, seems to be changing — at least if the expansion of the climbing community that Ridgely has witnessed in recent years is any indication. To help climbers hone their skills, and to introduce newcomers to the sport, Ridgely opened Volcanic Climbing & Fitness in May, a sister facility to Volcanic Rock Gym in Kailua.

A professional climber, Ridgely was introduced to the sport through a college friend. At first, he was a little apprehensive — he’s afraid of heights. But he found his forte in bouldering — a form of rock climbing that typi cally doesn’t involve towering heights, but also doesn’t involve harnesses — which is what Volcanic Climbing & Fitness focuses on.

“You end up seeing climbs that you totally write off as impossible, but then through working at it … you can accomplish it,” Ridgely says. “That sense of accomplishment, to me, is huge. It’s very empowering. It’s more like conquering yourself than conquering a rock.”

Volcanic Climbing & Fitness’ climbing walls feature extreme angles, wide gaps, and an archway that folds nearly in half.

“A lot of outdoor climbing here on Oahu and across the islands ends up being upside down,” Ridgely explains. “So we mimic that in the gym.

The gym attracts climbers of all ages, including Ridgely's 5-year-old son, Ronin ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTOS

The gym attracts climbers of all ages, including Ridgely’s 5-year-old son, Ronin ANTHONY CONSILLIO PHOTOS

“The archway is inspired by an arch that’s over on the west side,” he adds. “There are some epic things out here — huge cliffs over water.”

In addition to the climbing walls, Volcanic Climbing & Fitness is a full gym that’s complete with weights, other workout equipment and a roster of classes that include yoga, hip-hop, kickboxing and more. For some well-earned relaxation after all of that, there also is a saltwater pool, a sauna, and the Arch Cafe, which serves smoothies, acai bowls, milk tea and coffee.

“People can get all of their memberships in one spot, rather than having to have a climbing membership, a gym membership, yoga membership and then find a pool, too,” Ridgely explains. “There are not too many places that you get all of those under one roof.”

The idea behind having all of that in one place is, Ridgely hopes, to attract new climbers who may come to the spot for a different purpose.

“We want to introduce climbing into people’s workouts and share it with people who have never climbed before,” Ridgely says. “It’s about exposing the general public to (climbing), and letting them enjoy what we’ve enjoyed for so long.”

For more information, call 949-0001 or visit volcanicrockgym.com.