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Sports

Rocking Out at Allez Up

Posted by Jade / May 29, 2007

28052007allezup.jpgI’ve had dreams of shimmying fearlessly up walls Spider Man-style, all lithe and gravity-defying. So when my boyfriend asked if I wanted to try rock-climbing, I had to say yes: what better way to kick off the summer than to become your very own Blockbuster movie?

We chose Allez Up Climbing Gym to learn the ropes of rock-climbing. The $45.00 “Learn to Climb and Belay” course offered there showed us the ins and outs of rock-climbing safety: equipment use, knot-tying, belaying, climbing techniques, and (my favorite) falling. Basically, the two-hour lesson gives the rock-climbing neophyte all the tools she needs to get started up the 14.5-metre walls (but with no guarantees that she’ll reach the top, as I quickly discovered).

Allez Up is totally bilingual—the course was taught in French and English, and instruction was clear and thorough. And after you demonstrate competence in belaying and knot-tying, you and your partner are left alone to climb anywhere in the gym for as long as your heart desires. To get your accreditation at Allez Up (so you can freely use the gym on future dates), you must return to the gym to take a test on your safety skills within a month after your course. I’m told, and I believe, that after taking this course, passing the accreditation test is not much of a problem. That’s how good the class is.

The gym itself has a very laid-back, community feel to it. Fun, pump-you-up music plays in the background and people there are quick to say hello and chat. All skill levels were there climbing—while some people were looking a lot like this guy, there were a lot of beginners there as well. My whole time at Allez Up, I never felt out-of-place, judged or rushed to finish my route

It’s a very neat thing, to acquire a new skill and sport in just two hours. But it’s an even neater thing to look down at the top of 14.5 metres, see the tiny rocks jutting out of the wall and past that, your partner holding your rope taut at the other end, yelling at you, “Ready!” And then, to just let go with both hands, fall back and be slowly lowered down to earth again.

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Allez Up Climbing Gym
1339 Shearer (Corner St-Patrick)
H3K 1G6
Charlevoix Metro
(514) 989-9656

All "Learn to Climb and Belay" classes are at 7p.m. Monday to Friday. Courses are offered weekends by appointment. Call to reserve your spot in class.

Discussion

13 Comments

tV / May 30, 2007 at 11:48 am
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+ unfortunately Allez-Up has some of the worst gym instruction in the country. This wouldn't be evident to a beginner but it is more than common at Allez Up, for example, to see people who don't know how to be lowered: they scrape the wall all the way down, instead of leaning back and dropping their hands. Outdoors, if you did the former, you'd risk fraying the rope (as well as scraping yourself up). But you'd never know this from the instruction from the gym staff. In other words, be wary of this gym. The atmosphere isn't aided by lax (or nonexistent) floor policies concerning etiquette and safety (noticeable when children's parties run around using the climbing ropes like jungle swings). And Allez-Up has some serious issues with an overtly masculine lead climbing crowd. The lead climbers are arrogant, mouthy, and often shirtless, and can be an intimidating force when trying to boulder, for example. Many women climbers in the city boycott Allez Up for this reason, preferring the more professional, larger and serene routes of Horizon Roc. By contrast, Horizon Roc is a much less of a "rock jock" gym whereas Allez-Up characterizes some of the worst stereotypes of indoor climbing (shirtless sweaty and arrogant male climbers attempting endless pick-ups of neophyte female top-ropers.... grunting and sweating over the boulder cave in a gorilla match of show-off testosterone). I'd head to Horizon Roc to give a much more balanced account of learning (indoor) climbing. yrs, tV (climber of 15+ years)
chikimonkey / May 30, 2007 at 09:16 pm
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i hadn't been climbing in years and was pretty pleased with the refresher i got from allez up's instructor. it was way better than joe rockhead's in toronto, where they barely gave my belaying a cursory glance even though i admitted i was feeling rusty. guess it depends on the instructor.

on the other hand, i agree that allez up has more than its share of rock jocks. was surprised to find more than half the walls inclined -- there was even an inclined 5.5 (one of the easiest grades), which seemed kind of absurd to me.

but the constant bare-chested pushups, two-finger chinups and one-handed handstands didn't bother me so much. it was like watching the beginning of batman begins, only with worse dialogue. and anyway, it's kind of awesome to imagine that rockclimbers are training to be backflipping vigilante superheroes in their spare time. it makes life so much more exciting.
jade / May 31, 2007 at 11:39 am
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what i really need to do is go to several gyms i think--this was my first time rock climbing and i have no real basis for comparison. that said, i had a great time at allez up, and really, the instructor was present, thorough and extra-cautious that we knew exactly what we were doing before we went up.

i'll definitely take a look at horizon roc tV--thanks so much for letting me know about it.
BK / June 22, 2007 at 01:45 pm
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the André-Laurendeau CEGEP also has a cheapasborstch climbing wall which would be more than enough for a beginner, combined with a relaxed ambience. i find allez-up has a nice vibe whereas horizon is sometimes stricter than might be necessary, but maybe i am one of these unsafe renegade climber types.

better yet, get outside and do the real thing. try accmontreal.ca for courses and outings.
Kentaro / August 23, 2007 at 02:00 pm
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Sorry for butting in so late. My experience of both Horizon Roc and Allez Up has been very enjoyable. It's somewhat true that people are a little friendlier at Horizon Roc but the snobbish ones are few enough at Allez Up as not to ruin the experience.

BTW, both places have their share of shirtless guys. I don't see my girlfriend complain about that. :)
Kentaro / August 23, 2007 at 02:00 pm
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Sorry for butting in so late. My experience of both Horizon Roc and Allez Up has been very enjoyable. It's somewhat true that people are a little friendlier at Horizon Roc but the snobbish ones are few enough at Allez Up as not to ruin the experience.

BTW, both places have their share of shirtless guys. I don't see my girlfriend complain about that. :)
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