First Time Climbers

First time climbers can expect to be greeted at the front desk and asked to sign the waiver (or sign it now, click here).

Climbing staff training a first time climber

All new climbers to Ape Index participate in a climbing orientation to ensure you and your party understand the basics, know how to be safe and keep everyone in your party safe and to ensure you have a blast while you are with us!

During your orientation, you may start to scout out your climbing routes as we conduct a gym tour. Maybe your goal is to reach the top of a “route”, improve your physical and mental acuity or to overcome challenges and to enjoy each success as you progress and have fun.
Remember that your legs are stronger than your arms, so focus on ways to improve foot friction and leg placement. Climbing with your full body (legs and arms), with a strong core, will allow you maximum flexibility while climbing.

Observe other climbers on routes to learn the “beta” or the way to climb the route most effectively. The more time you spend with us and our members the better you can learn more complex routes and improve your skills over time.


Man bouldering with a spotter

Bouldering is climbing the rock walls without a rope but with a crash pad and a spotter. At Ape Index, you can climb most routes to the half way mark on the wall. As you climb, your spotter moves the crash pad with you and spots the climber to redirect any falls.

When bouldering you can focus on strength and balance while learning to climb effectively.

Top–Rope Climbing

people top rope climbing in a climbing gym

Most frequently seen in movies and on television, this is climbing with a harness and rope. As a climber, you tie your harness into the top rope. Your partner will belay you as the rope manager in case of a fall. Remember, our staff members will train you on how to properly belay and how to climb with a top rope.

Route Rating System:

Yosemite decimal rating system and the vermin v-scale rating system for rock climbing

The Yosemite Decimal Rating System, with the 5.0 through 5.15 scale, is used to measure the difficulty of both bouldering and top rope routes. You will find that Ape Index uses a tape system to identify routes and route ratings can be found on every wall.

The Vermin or V-scale rating system is the standard for how bouldering routes are rated. It starts at V0 and goes up to V17. You will also find routes labeled VB in the gym which stands for beginner or basic and is easier than a V0 route.

Clothing and Gear

Rock climbing shoes: As a first time climber, we recommend you rent your first pair of shoes. Shoes should be tight but not painful and our staff can help you with sizing. If you are purchasing shoes, we recommend you go to a reputable store to identify the correct fit for you. Shoes are critical in climbing as they have hard soles and should conform to your foot.

Clothing: Be sure to dress for comfort. If you are top roping, remember you will be wearing a harness so flimsy clothing may not be comfortable. Any clothing with stretch is a good option.

Harness: You are required to wear a harness when top roping. We offer these for rental or you can bring you own.

Chalk bag and chalk: Chalk is used to keep fingers and palms dry, which helps you avoid slipping.

Adaptive Climbing/ Paraclimbing

Adaptive climbing or paraclimbing is available at Ape Index but we ask that you reserve your visit ahead of time so we can make sure you have a dedicated space to climb with a staff member. Contact us to make your reservation!