A First-Timer’s Guide to Rock Climbing in Seattle

It’s the climb 🎵

📸: Courtesy Seattle Bouldering Project

If you go to any brewery in Seattle, you’ll quickly notice the high number of granola boys and girls that occupy the city per capita. It’s not hard to bump into someone who’s into rock climbing here—and so it makes sense that you’ve landed on this article, searching for places for beginners to climb in Seattle. And we gotcha. Here’s a list of Seattle spots where you can build up those hand calluses. These are beginner-friendly places, with no prior experience needed.

Husky Climbing Rock @ UW

Montlake Blvd NE, Seattle

📸: Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times

Rock climbing indoors in Seattle

Did you know the University of Washington used to have a problem with their students climbing buildings in the 1970s? This climbing habit, in addition to the tragic passing of two students and a faculty member due to a climbing accident, led the university to build Husky Rock to inspire and teach safe climbing. 

Located just outside the University of Washington light rail station, you can find the big rock in the south parking lot of the Husky Stadium. If you go, you’ll be climbing history, as this is one of the nation’s first-ever artificial outdoor climbing walls, according to the authors of Husky Rock: A Bouldering Guide to the U.W. Climbing Walls. This location features a handful of bouldering routes, including a 30-foot-tall top rope wall, but I’d recommend bringing a friend with some climbing gear for that one. 

When you finish climbing for the day, follow the path nearby that leads under the Montlake Bridge. Let the noise of the speeding cars drown the afternoon away. And pro tip: If you don’t have climbing shoes or gear and want to save money, rent them out from nearby climbing gyms or REI.

The Mountaineers Climbing Wall @ Magnuson Park

7700 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle

Wanna practice your sport climbing skills but don’t wanna spend 20 dollars for a day pass at an indoor gym? These outdoor climbing walls are here for you. 

Built by the dope people at The Mountaineers, a nonprofit organization that advocates for people to love the outdoors, the walls at the program’s South Climbing Plaza in Magnuson Park have a lot going for them. Notably, they’re free to use and open to the public—as long as the space isn’t reserved, so check the calendar.

Wanna try out traditional rope climbing? This space has pillars of basalt you can climb. And there’s also a wall with substantial routes to hone your top roping and clipping skills. If it’s raining out, The Mountaineers has indoor climbing walls available to Mountaineers members during office hours. And if you’re a reader into ice climbing, they also have walls to simulate that.

Seattle Bouldering Project @ Poplar, Fremont, and Upper Walls

900 Poplar Place S, Seattle

I know this one’s not a hidden gem, but it’s a gem nonetheless. Seattle Bouldering Project (SBP) has got to be one of the more beginner-friendly gyms you’ll find in Seattle.

SBP’s Poplar location is exclusively bouldering—so no ropes—but there are plenty of styles to try here, from overhands to slabby climbs. And this two-story bouldering climbing gym is more than just chalky holds: Many events happen here regularly, like the monthly queer climb nights. Plus, the West Wall gathering space on the ground floor offers a space for people who don’t want to climb but still want to feel the granola fantasy. They serve killer smoothies and some bomb salads that will make you feel extra healthy

Pro tip: Try to climb here before 5 pm to avoid the crowd.

Momentum Indoor Climbing @ SODO

2759 1st Ave S, Seattle

Climbing, for a lack of a better word, can feel a little too white sometimes, but Momentum at SODO often has more people of color climbing in it than other local gyms I’ve gone to. This is a more intimate bouldering gym, but if you’re trying to avoid the crowd, this gym’s routes are just as good as the others. And if you want to figure out if bouldering or climbing is for you, Momentum offers new climbers a sweet 2-week trial membership. If you want to transition to outdoor climbing eventually, their routes mimic crag conditions to help you with your PNW journey.

Vertical World @ Ballard

2330 W Commodore Way, Seattle

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If you’re seeking herstory, it is her. Vertical World opened the first-ever climbing gym in the United States on Elliott Ave but has since relocated to its current spot on Commodore Way. This new one is a mixed gym, sporting a nook of bouldering, but it truly shines with its top rope climbs. They offer classes if you want to learn the proper way of how-not-to-fall while climbing rope. And yes, sometimes it’s hard to find a partner in climbing, but the auto-belay system here doesn’t require a friend to assist you—it’s made for independent people. The area is also really close to a lot of breweries. After killing off the senses on your forearms, you can kill off some other senses with a bit of beer.

Put Those Fingers to Use @ These Other Climbing Spots

🧗‍♂️ Edgeworks @ Ballard
🧗‍♂️ Marymoor Park Climbing Wall @ Redmond
🧗‍♂️ Half Moon Bouldering @ Greenwood
🧗‍♂️ Vertical World North @Lynnwood
🧗‍♂️ Schurman Rock at Camp Long @ West Seattle


An author pic of Juan Miguel Jocom in a pink bucket hat

Juan Miguel Jocom

Juan is a Filipino journalist who likes to write about subcultures and films. He climbs rocks and often dreams about bike touring. He’s excited about entering his 30s. Follow him on Instagram @juanita_bananana.

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