This weekend is the grand opening of the largest rock climbing center in the northeast, The Cliffs at Long Island City. The center will host an open house on Saturday, October 5th from 9 am to 10 pm at its 30,000-square-foot headquarters 11-11 44th Drive. The day-long event will feature professional climbers, circus aerialists, DJs and a Red Bull-sponsored bar. Mike Wolfert, owner of The Cliffs, has climbed professionally for 15 years, since selling his marketing firm in San Francisco after discovering the sport. As he told us, “The gym combines my background in marketing with my passion.” He’s been on the hunt for a space to open a rock climbing center since 2007. The Gunks, a climbing destination in nearby New Paltz, draws nearly 1,500 people a day on weekends — the majority from New York City. In effect, Wolfert knew there’d be demand. “This [space] is perfect because you need high ceilings and no columns,” he says. “Plus it’s centrally located in an up-and-coming neighborhood.” Click through for more interior photos (including a photo of Nepalese sherpas scaling the walls!), as well as lots more details.
The 30,000 square feet of climbing walls will be able to accommodate all levels of climbers. There is a kid’s terrain (with specially designed hand-holds that look like animals), a 16-foot-tall bouldering section, and belaying walls. Each week a section of climbing course will be removed, cleaned, and installed in a new route designed by a route setter. Every three months, the walls will offer an entirely new set of obstacles. Color-coded tape is placed as trail guides and correspond to the degree of difficulty.
The Cliffs won’t just be a climbing center. There is a full array of exercise equipment as well as additional fitness classes such as yoga.
As part of the center’s soft opening and in conjunction with the opening of the documentary The Summit, Nepalese sherpas from the Lower Manhattan store Tent & Trails demonstrated their rock-climbing abilities, ably darting up the rock walls. The Nepalese immigrants were trail guides and most have climbed Everest multiple times. They now live as part of the Nepalese community in Jackson Heights.
The Cliffs will be open daily from 9 am to 12 am and host classes for all ability levels as well as after-school programs in the kid terrain area. A day pass is $25, and monthly unlimited-use memberships are $95.