If you lived near the corner of Bathurst and Front in the past five years you passed the Rock Oasis, an indoor rock-climbing gym, that used to be there. About ten years ago I was a member.
A lot has changed since then. For one, they have relocated to 388 Carlaw Avenue. Curious to see what their new premises look like I emailed the owner, Karen McGilvray, and scheduled a beginner lesson and some climbing time to see it all firsthand.
I arrived at the gym and immediately recognized their bright yellow and black palm tree sign. One of the great things about this location is the ample parking. Thank goodness for this! So, whether you bike, drive a car or take the TTC, it seems that their new location is perfect for all travellers.
The interior is just what I like to see in a gym like this. It has exposed brick, a few industrial pipes here and there and a ruggedness that seems fitting for the gym. They have tons of lockers and changing areas. There’s a roomy warm-up area that can accommodate a large number of climbers. Generally, there is noticably more space inside. They have done a great job of separating the warm-up, bouldering, beginners and experienced climber areas.
As a returning member I considered myself an "old new climber”. I signed up for the new climber lesson for $35 (includes lesson on the basics, climbing time, harness, and climbing shoes). On their website, under “Learn to Climb”, it includes the following activities:
• Learn how to put on a harness.
• Learn how to tie into the safety rope.
• Learn how to belay (operate the safety device) for your partner.
• Climb lots to practice your new skills.
• Choose climbs which are both challenging and attainable.
• Have fun and meet interesting people.
A lot has changed in the indoor rock climbing world, enough that I really did feel like a beginner climber. My climbing instructor was really patient, knowledgeable and professional. He informed me that all the changes have affected the way that The Rock Oasis runs. One of the benefits though is that by climbing using all the new techniques one can more easily transition to outdoor climbing. This made me feel pretty darn good. I like knowing that they are taking things seriously at this gym.
I truly enjoyed the lesson, the amount of time spent on practicing how to be safe pays off later when you need to belay your partner. I’m no longer attached to the ground. It’s just me, a harness, a rope and a grigri keeping my partner from falling to the ground. Not to sound too dramatic, but it is a serious responsibility. My partner and I worked well together. We spoke about how much slack on our climbing rope we preferred when climbing, and when to know when the person was ready to come down. We were able to relax a bit after the first climb. I enjoyed the more challenging climbs and got as high as a 5.9 that day. Not too shabby for a returning climber.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the improvements this gym has made, both in location, interior and the climbing instruction. I recommend anyone who is curious about this gym to try it out. I read they accommodate groups as well. How cool would it be if your boss decided to do a corporate team building initiative here? Communication is key when rock climbing, you might come out learning a bit more than just climbing here.
The Rock Oasis
388 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto
Written by Millie (Castaneda) Soriano
Millie Soriano (formerly Millie Castaneda) is a teacher by day and a health & fitness writer by night. As a writer, she visits locations and events, blogs at her site, and writes articles about healthy lifestyles in and around the city here at Spotlight Toronto. Her passion for maintaining balance in her life drives her curiosity to try all things new. This includes new gyms, bootcamps, 5K, 10K and half-marathon races, CN Tower climbs, you name it!