Mercer Island

Stone Gardens takes hold on Eastside

Stone Gardens takes hold on Eastside
Jen Westburg rappels down the wall.

Eastside "Spideys" will be pleased to learn that wall-walking has taken on several new dimensions.

"It's great, it's huge and offers tons of bouldering," observed Scott Chamberlin of Bellevue as he tested the new Stone Gardens climbing gym at Crossroads in Bellevue. "My kids (3 & 10) will love it and I will love it for training for going outdoors. It's fun in itself with a lot of problems in a tall space. Besides, it's dry and warm, not mossy and cold!"

Chamberlin's take on the 22,000 square foot climbing gym, which opened last weekend in the remodeled Circuit City building, may reflect a growing trend toward fitness activities such as indoor rock climbing. It is designed to accommodate all ages and levels of rock climbers.

Besides the fascinating walls with routes ranging from VB (easiest) to V-11 and V-12 (really, really hard), the routes are constantly altered by two full-time and three part-time route setters, explained Assistant Manager Brad Szlezak of Bothell, who added that it features holds from 10 different companies and provides climbing options appropriate from tots to pros.

While touring the facility, route setter David Ackerman set off to show how to climb the "Cave" wall. In the central 40-foot-high hall, Chris Floyd of Seattle and Jen Westburg of Bothell practiced climbing, belaying and rappelling.

Szlezak underscored the goals of Stone Gardens Bellevue, "It's all about safety and fun."