High on psyche, low on attitude. That’s the vibe at Pacific Edge, Santa Cruz’s climbing gym.
Where else can you find people ages 6 to 60, communalizing at one sport?
What other sport has your life directly tied to someone else?
Where else can you find world-class athletes and budding newbies cheering each other on?
These are a few of things you can expect to see at Pacific Edge Climbing Gym. The atmosphere that Pacific Edge cultivates is one of community and connection. Egos are checked at the door.
It’s no wonder the gym is pumping, given all it has to offer. Popular for many reasons, in addition to the the community, here’s what you’ll find at Pacific Edge Climbing Gym:
- 1300+ members
- 50′ top roping walls
- Top notch lead climbing cave
- Centerpiece bouldering area
- Advanced bouldering room (15 and up)
- Yoga studio
- Weight room/training room
- Climbing teaching room
- Cardio equipment mezzanine
- Supply store
It’s this set up, together with the unequivocal community fostered within it, that climbers around the area, new and seasoned, love about Pacific Edge Climbing Gym. That’s why they keep coming back.
“It’s not just the lure of solving the puzzle of the climb, it’s the support I get when I come here, the camaraderie of the staff and other climbers is epic and it’s what pushes me through,” says a grinning Vickie Cady.
Vickie is a fit 55 and a newcomer to Santa Cruz. When she talks about Pacific Edge, she beams. She says it’s what helps her on tough days when she’s missing her husband who passed.
That’s another thing about climbing. You’re so focused on maintaining your balance and getting that next move that your mind has no room to wander. Out goes the fight you had with your partner or how you’re going to pay your bills or find a job.
— Complete escape.
Belaying and Bouldering Community
In a nightclub, the climbing wall section would be the dance floor. Music blasts through the gym speakers. Climbers partner off and each person supports the other, gazing at their moves while not letting go of them. Then they switch off so the other can dance the wall.
Some climbers come in groups and switch partners. Neighboring belayers often chat and climbers may negotiate moves and paths alongside other climbers.
On the climbing walls, when top roping or lead climbing, 9 times out of 10 when you come down from the wall at Pacific Edge, you’re met by cheers and back slaps.
While your brows were furrowed, locked in concentration, you didn’t realize you had a gaggle of groupies literally having your back below – willing you to stick that next move and get to the top.
When climbing 50 foot walls, climbers need to be roped in and they rely on their belayers to feed them enough rope as they climb higher as well as be their break and move the rope taut when they are doing a difficult move and might fall.
Let’s talk about the bouldering area. In the center of the nightclub, the bouldering area would be the tiered stage where single dancers show off moves. With many plugged into their own beat via headphones, there is typically a circle of critiquers and admirers.
The scene around the perimeter is full of chatting and nail biting. Onlookers study foot placement and hand holds while fellow climbers angle up and around V0s to V6s, the bouldering level of difficulty scale. On a more advanced route, a spotter will hold his or her arms out to brace a fall should a move not stick.
You don’t need a rope to boulder. Eric Cruz, 21, goes on his own, plugs into his iPhone and tackles a route problem he’s been working on. Within seconds, others are watching him. One of them wants to try it as soon as he’s off.
A Family Affair
You’ve done the bounce house and the game truck party for your kids. Top that with a birthday party at Pacific Edge.
Staff will belay the kids as they monkey up the walls. No experience necessary.
A staple in the Santa Cruz community, Pacific Edge gives back. Here are some ways Assistant Manager and Climbing Instructor, Mike Kittredge, says the gym reaches out to help the community:
- Project Climb: Reaching New Heights. A program focusing on at-risk students at Coastanoa High School. Climbing helps kids learn lessons they can take with them beyond the books: leadership skills, trust, responsibility and commitment.
- Shared Adventures nights. Hosted for kids and adults with physical or mental challenges.
- Climbing scholarships. Free climbing for families who can’t afford a membership.
- Non-profit discounts. Reduced rates for non-profit organizations, especially those focusing on at-risk kids.
- Donations. Free climbing or yoga passes for many local charities, non-profits and schools.
New on the horizon for Pacific Edge, a climbing team is formulating. Owner, Tom Davis says, “competitive climbing is growing nationwide.”
Staff will coach climbers year-round with hopes of making it to Nationals.