After the original home of The Toronto Climbing Academy was sold for a condo development the Academy needed to find another place. They moved into a few feet shorter but fresh and airy building at 11 Curity Avenue on Superbowl Weekend in February 2010. High windows on both sides of the building and warm natural light make it one of the most beautiful climbing gyms.
As I visited The Toronto Climbing Academy this afternoon, there was a sea of kids wearing green t-shirts taking in a supervised summer camp session, staying out of the day’s heat in this well air-conditioned building. I’m trying out the new routes being set for the Summer Sweat Fest bouldering competition while catching up with Chris Akalski as he sets them and talks about the gym’s new location. The bouldering at the original TCA was always challenging, and that hasn’t changed.
How to Get There
Finding the Academy can’t be easier. They have put some serious effort into describing different routes and directions and helping you to plan your visit so even daydreamers and absentminded climbers won’t get lost. You are more than welcome to drive here, there is plenty of free parking at the front and an outdoor bike rack for your pedal-powered steed as well.
Always keeping you updated about the new routes!
Lead and Top-Rope Climbing
Do you love danger and the intoxicating rush of blood in your head? The new TCA location features over 80 top rope stations with grades range from 5.2 to 5.13, and although the highest vertical point tops out at 26 feet, lead routes run up to 35 feet when linked along the front wall of the gym. If you’re new to lead climbing, this might be a good gym to try out. Closely spaced lead quickdraws are found on nearly every route, so you can practice a lot of clipping and have the added comfort of shorter distances to your next anchor point.
Beginners are encouraged to try one of the top-rope options. This of course doesn’t mean that experienced climbers should steer off top-rope climbing. You can start some routes inside a cave area and come around a slight overhang before heading for the roof. It’s a good mix of options for your climbing session. Colored tape defines routes in this gym but it doesn’t seem to stick well to some surfaces. Perhaps it is high traffic on some routes that pulls the tape off. Pieces are crumpled or torn off completely, so that much needed hand or foothold could be right in front of you and you wouldn’t know it.
The back wall features something unique to TCA – rock-like panels by Pyramide SA (France). These panels have an incredible amount of variety in their features and are an integral part of many routes. You need to search out your own unmarked hand and footholds on the panels themselves, simulating a bit of outdoor sport climbing.
Climbing many of the routes, there was a familiarity with the style found at TCAs original location, however there were quite a few curveballs in the route grading. That’s to be expected with a compliment of 8-10 route setters. A chalkboard by the change-room hallway lists all the new routes that have been set that week, and the gym aims for a complete turnover of routes every 5-6 weeks. The TCA offers the greatest variety with it’s many different types of walls and and angles. And they have about 8 regular setters that create a new challenge each week, thus offering super variety in climbing styles.
I love bouldering. It gives you freedom and an absolute control. I can see an increasing number of climbers opting for bouldering rather than lead or top-rope climbing. The central bouldering area between the back wall and front section of the gym has a full compliment of V0-V7 problems with soft padding everywhere to crash on. No separate mats required. Many routes will top-out, letting you climb down safely at the side. If you’re new to bouldering, the problems set here along with the footwork practice on the Pyramide walls will be a good introduction.
Your visit to The Toronto Climbing Academy will provide you with a great overall workout. There is a separate training area upstairs where you can warm up your muscles and stretch properly. Remeber, worm-up is together with stretching and cool-down the most important part of any physical activity, climbing included. The usual compliment of hangboards, pull-up bars, and even some kettlebells are to be found. Spacious change rooms have showers if you’ve worked up a sweat, however the 12”x12” lockers along the hallway don’t offer a lot of storage if you want to secure your bags.
Planning Your First Visit
Waivers are filled out in person at TCA. A Day Visit pass is $18, putting it at the top end of prices in the GTA. There’s a student discount available— proof of student enrollment is required. Amongst the offers from TCA is a promotion for beginners – for $20 you get 2-weeks of unlimited climbing and free rentals during the two weeks.
Beginner’s classes run on the hour at 5,6,7, and 8pm Monday – Friday, Saturdays at 1pm and Sundays at 12 noon. You will need to sign up and pay for your booking in advance. At $34.51 + HST ($39), so only a bit more expensive intro classes. It’s a good course, with consistent delivery on how to be a safe climber.
For those with some experience under their belt, taking a Top-Rope Belay test is free at any time; no appointment necessary. To Lead Climb, you’ll need to schedule a test in advance and pay the Lead Certification fee ($17.70 + HST)
The Toronto Climbing Academy is open 365 days a year:
Mon – Fri: 12pm – 11pm
Weekends: 10am – 10pm
Holidays: 10am – 6pm
- Well air conditioned, open atmosphere
- Good introduction to lead climbing
- Excellent bouldering
- Kids training courses and programs after school and day camps
- Free parking
- Over 150 different climbs and over 50 boulder creations
- Staff members were consistently inattentive on check-in
- One of the more expensive gyms in the GTA
- Route grading can be inconsistent
- Need to pre-book the lead test and it’s $20 tax included
Toronto Climbing Academy offers great kids programs and corporate functions. If you’re new to lead climbing, you should try out TCA, and if you want a taste of the outdoors while enjoying air conditioned comfort and convenience, stop in and have a go.
Phone: (416) 406-5900