Re-Invent Your Work Out Wheel At True North Climbing This Weekend

on August 9, 2013

true north rock climbing - indoor rock climbing
Looks like you’re bored of your usual humdrum textbook workout fellow Weekendtripper and ready to expand your horizons.

Good. Because it’s about time you ventured out into the world of rock climbing in Toronto.

So if you’re ready, hold on tight! Weekendtrips highlights your next weekend conquest: True North Climbing, a rock climbers must-visit.


Trip to True North Climbing

Located at Downsview Park Sports Centre, 75 Carl Hall Rd, Unit 14, True North Climbing gym offers rock climbers 14,500 square feet of rock climbing turf.

True North Climbing always splashed big waves in Toronto headlines since opening up in 2010; gaining widespread notoriety for being one of the best indoor rock climbing gyms in Toronto — we had to check it out.

After a 10-minute bus ride from Downsview Station, we stepped underneath the scorching heat and locked eyes with the Downsview Hangar, a former military base 231.5 hectares (572 acres) big, sitting on one of the highest elevations in the city of Toronto.

It’s massive.

As we walked towards the True North Rock Climbing entrance, we heard sneakers gripping on indoor floors, basketballs bouncing, squash racquets smashing on walls along the way. The Downsview Hangar hosted more than what we expected.

After we turned the corner, we saw a soccer field in the distance just past a shopping mall-like parking lot. Two minutes of walking later, we found the True North Climbing sign, across from the soccer field at the Hangar’s edge.

We made it.


The gym was well-lit and clean. Beaming down from the sky roof was good old Mr. Sun shining down on the blue padded floor, marrying with the gym’s artificial light which was sprinkled throughout the gym. The Hangar garage door was open as well, giving climbers the chance to watch bits and pieces of the outdoor soccer game in the distance.

After signing an electronic waiver [a must for any True North climber], True North Climbing conveniently offered Weekendtrips free rock climbing shoe rentals for the day, which normally would cost $4.50 for gym members and $5.50 for non-members.

We waited for more scheduled rock climbers to show up for the introductory course while admiring the venue beautification.

Designed and engineered by Eldorado Climbing Walls of Boulder, a Colorado-based company famous across North America for building rock climbing gyms, the True North Rock Climbing gym had a certain life to it. A certain je ne sais quoi. Indeed, this was a product of a dream come true.


As we waited for 2pm to come around, the instructor took us on a tour. He highlighted the top-rope climbing walls, which reached as high as 36 feet, all peppered with red, green, orange, blue, and beige rocks.

Hanging down from the ceiling were 50 top-ropes. Each rope hosted 2 optional routes for climbers to decipher.

All were graded using the Yosemite System, a formula which rock climbers use to assess the degree of difficulty. 5.5 was beginner level and 5.13 was strongest.


In-between the top-rope climbing wall and bouldering wall were two slacklining ropes. Both were two-inches thick, bouncy, yet sturdy, almost trampoline-like tight ropes.

Slacklining originally started off as a rock climber’s campsite pastime.

They are incorporated into indoor rock climbing gym regimens, adding more rock climbing culture to the indoor gym, offering climbers of every ilk to explore. A perfect place for True North climbers to shoot the breeze and socialize.


Then we strolled to the bouldering wall. Bouldering is a ropeless low-climbing activity popular amongst rock climbers.

It’s a short climb, fun to puzzle, and offers a great social atmosphere for climbers to get to chat.

True North Climbing offers bouldering programs for kids, beginners, and experienced climbers. All have access to 150 bouldering problems.

The low-climbing wall ranges from 5 feet to 13 feet in height.

Warm Up Area

Just past the top-rope walls, we made our way into a cul-da-sac, a pocket built inside True North. Here, climbers can ride the stationary bike or condition upper body muscles on vertical walls.

All exercises are designed to strengthen rock climbing fingers, including finger calluses, and forearms, upper body strength, and coordination.

The warm up area was tough. No ropes or chalk. No rest for the wicked.

Lead Climbing

After touring through the warm up area we made our way to True North’s lead climbing walls. Lead climbing is for advanced climbers who are skilful enough to take the rope up with them and strap themselves onto new pegs found above.

The fall can be anywhere from 10-15 feet, which is fun for the advanced climbers and frightening for beginners.

True North offers 6 hour lead climbing sessions [2 three-hour sessions]. With proper training, True North Climbing climbers can attempt to conquer the True North stalactite, one of the highest indoor rock climbing stalactites in North America.

Just picture an enormous iceberg floating in the sky.

The stalactite climb ranges in difficulty as well, giving both beginners and experienced climbers a shot at playing “David and Goliath.”

Yoga For Climbers

With all the twists and stretches rock climbers are required to make, True North partner Spiral Movement Center offers one-hour yoga classes to all interested bodies every Wednesday at 8PM.

True North Rock Climbing members get a discounted price at $9 a class and $15 for non-members.

If you’re looking for a package deal, members will get to buy a ten class pass at $70 and $120 for non-members.

Yoga mats and yoga blocks are all provided and available.

Safety First

Finally, 2pm came and the group gathered around the instructor.

First, we learned how to put on our climbing harness, then learned how to double down on a figure eight knots, how to belay, and wheel down your rock climbing partner, which itself is a work out.

Our instructor was patient, highly-knowledgeable, and definitely more physically fit than the rest of the class. He made it a comfortable and social experience as well, an important element in rock climbing culture.

As a cherry on top, he eased all the tensions and nerves throughout the class, making sure everybody knew how to become independent and confident rock climbers. Practice makes perfect.


Still holding tight? Good. Hands down, rock climbing is one of the few work outs today that delivers instant achievement or ‘results.’

It has proven to improve mental, physical, and social well-being, helping climbers defeat personal phobias, personal physical bests, build and strengthen new friendships, all while defeating Goliath-like walls.

If you’ve been meaning to re-invent your work out wheel, head on down to True North Climbing this weekend.

Regular gym hours are: Monday to Friday 12p.m. – 11p.m.; Saturday to Sunday 10a.m. – 10p.m.; summer hours are from 10a.m.- 11p.m.

To book rock climbing lessons or find more information visit True North Climbing or call 416 398-ROCK.

  • Louis Torres

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