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Is Philly a climber's city?
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By Chris Blanchard
Jun 9, 2013

I am originally from the Philly area and ended up in DC for college where I found rock climbing. Since then it has consumed my life. Work has fortunately brought me to California where I have been living for a while and obviously climb .. A lot.

Friends that I have met out here ask me all the time what the climbing was like on the East Coast. I tell them it is more pocketed and the grades are stiffer than most out west, but we also don't have a firm grasp on California slab or the slickness of a route due to 1000's of Yosemite climber's foot traffic. Then came the topic of .. Is Philly a climber's city?

I didn't know how to answer because I didn't live there when I found the sport. But looking at the surrounding areas, Philly is lacking the plethora of many others. What do you guys think? Do we hold our own in terms of having a lot of rock lovers in the area?


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By Alec32
From Brooklyn, NY
Jun 9, 2013

I lived there for a year. Philly is probably similar to DC for climbing. The NRG and RRG are a bit further, but the gunks are a bit closer. The day-trippable spots are mostly shit. (Birdsboro sucks, a lot.) There are better cities in the east, definitely; I'm in NYC now, and I'm much happier being an easy day trip away from the gunks.

Because of that, there are not many committed climbers in Philly. I feel like there is a core group of people that all know each other, or know people who know each other. It's sorta fun that way, but I wish the good climbing were closer.


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By Alex Washburne
Jun 9, 2013
I eat crack for breakfast.

It just got a lot better with the new bouldering gym (PRG East Falls). There's a good sport climbing gym - Go Vertical. For some numbers, I'd guess NRG is ~6 hours away and the Gunks ~3-3.5 hrs. There's definitely not as many strong climbers at the gyms in Philly as you'll find in BKB, and certainly not as easy of access to a good destination (any good destination) but it's also not a place where climbers wither and die.


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By Chris Blanchard
Jun 9, 2013

It's funny you bring up gyms because I have been to a few and the love is there but the quality and volume is lacking .. Do you think the city could benefit from a larger gym like you see in other cities .. Earth treks (dc), sender one (Santa Ana), solid rock (San Diego), and the new one in queens?


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By Alex Washburne
Jun 9, 2013
I eat crack for breakfast.

I haven't been to any of those gyms, but I think any flat spot of land would benefit from a very large gym, regardless how many there are already (I think New Paltz, Estes Park, and Moab would all benefit from really large gyms :D). That said, I think a large gym would do quite well in Philly (especially N Philly or possibly S Jersey). There are a lot of halfway decent gyms (and some really shitty gyms) where you can either boulder or sport, but a colossal, satisfaction-guaranteed sport+bouldering gym built close to a nice set of bars/pubs with fresh holds, varied routes/problems, and a cool scene would easily suck up customers away from those halfway decent gyms and become a mecca for fit young adults. If someone's looking for a business idea - there you have it! Get crackin, and count me in for the grand opening!!!


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By Alex Washburne
Jun 9, 2013
I eat crack for breakfast.

PS

Have you been to the new PRG East Falls bouldering gym? That place is pretty legit, provided you climb V9 or less.


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By Bill Czajkowski
From Albuquerque, NM
Jun 9, 2013
Triple Jeopardy starting from 1/3 of the way up.  No good pro except at this stance and after the upcoming slab.

No.


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By s.price
From PS,CO
Jun 10, 2013
 Morning Dew ,self portrait

Alex, if a large gym could be profitable in a place like Moab it would already exist. Way too many days and places per year to climb outside to make it profitable. Estes the same. No one is going to pay in these towns if they can climb outdoors. Same reason Durango does not have a large gym. Doesn't add up.


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By Chris Blanchard
Jun 10, 2013

I haven't been to the new one yet. Should have because I was home visiting for Memorial Day. But don't you think access to a downtown climbing gym would be limited to people outside the city?


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By Chris Blanchard
Jun 10, 2013

And I agree about those places not being to have a large gym. Places like LA and Sacramento have tons of climbing but the GReAT spots like Tuolumne, Yosemite, Joshua and more are just a weeee bit too far for an after work session where as Moab is closer proximity.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Jun 10, 2013
El Chorro

While there are "climbers cities" in the east, Philly is most certainly not one of them. In 15 seconds I can think of a half dozen cities in the east that I'd rather live.


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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
Jun 10, 2013
Day Lily.

You're not going to die if you move to Philly.

Stoney Ridge offers solid stone and some nice cracks and isn't terribly far, the gunks and seneca a little over 4 hours +/-, plus you are not terribly far (easy day trip) from world class bouldering. Plus you're not ridiculously far from the Delaware Water Gap which is one of a few (rare) multi-pitch "adventure" climbing areas in PA. Birdsboro offers you options, plenty love it, plenty hate it.

Its all relative though. I love climbing so much that a couple hours one way isn't a big deal to me. Maybe it is to you?

DC is closer to North Carolina, that's one thing DC definitly has on Philly


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By Ellenore Zimmerman
Jun 10, 2013
me

Birdsboro is the original drill happy manufactured routes galore. Gunks is the only place worth spending your time at. Delaware Water gap and Seneca are loose as hell. There is nothing in Philly! The gym (PRG) happens to be my birth place as a climber and has a good vibe. If I ever had to live back East it would have to be Poughkepsee. For the sake of Gunks. If given a chance, check out Appalacia climbing, The Carolinas and West Virginia have a really cool flavor, especially in the fall.


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By Aram Attarian
Jun 10, 2013

Check out Ralph Stover State Park and the Lake Nockamixon Boulders, both located near Doylestown, PA north of Philly.


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By Michael C
From New Jersey
Jun 10, 2013
Mt Minsi, PA

Climber's City? Eh, not really. But there's plenty of climbing if you drive an hour (or more) outside of Philly. PA is not Utah, and Philly is not Boulder but there's climbing, bouldering, and stuff to do outdoors.


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By Eric8
From Framingham
Jun 10, 2013

the gunks are great but I bet you would still be disappointed overall


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By Merlin
From Grand Junction
Jun 10, 2013

Philly is a shithole and pretty much the antithesis of an outdoor town. Fairmount park is decent if you don't mind the odd mugging after dark and there is nature to be had with a drive (a long one) but by and large it is a fat, lazy, nasty, town. I'd maybe rank Baltimore and Camden as worse in the NE but that's it.

Definitely not a climbers town, more of an eat food and drink town. The one benefit Philly does have is more culture and access to it than most places out west. If you must live in the NE pick anywhere else.


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By Brassmonkey
Jun 10, 2013
Brass monkey

I basically live in Philly (manayunk) and I wouldn't call it a climbers city at all. It does have the Gunks 3 hours away which is awesome, the Daks 6-7 hours away, and the New also 6-7 hours away. But as far as sections of large worthwhile climbing that's it. Seneca shouldn't even count for anything. I wouldn't drive more than an hour to get there.

For sport you have the choss pile of Birsdboro (someone is going to die there someday soon with the shitty routes they have bolted in the past year and are continuing to bolt)and newly opened safe harbor 1.5 hours away which is actually pretty decent.

Bouldering you have gretna, haycock, and Governor Stables (kind of) all within 2 hours.

The city is actually a great city with lots of great non-fat active people. The river trail and wissahickon park are always packed with joggers, bikers, etc. And yeah the food is awesome, but you dont have to be fat to enjoy it. Merlin sounds like maybe hes just a little bitter.

It does have a very small scene where everyone knows everyone which can be a gift and a curse for sure, but all climber scenes are like that I think.

If you are going to move here just for the climbing...dont. If you have to move here and you are a climber there are gyms and climbing areas close-ish enough that you probably wont be miserable; you'll just have to be willing to drive or take extended trips. There are some very solid partners here for all areas of climbing though, you just have to find them (some hide better than others)!


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By Merlin
From Grand Junction
Jun 10, 2013

Brassmonkey wrote:
Merlin sounds like maybe hes just a little bitter.


Merlin lived in Philly for 21 years. I'm not sure where I rank leaving Philly in my life but it is up there with getting my doctorate and marrying a woman I'm celebrating my tenth anniversary with.

I made some friends I've had for 30+ years in Philly and I miss the food, orchestra, culture, etc. but the town is an angry dump. Its hard to realize how crappy it is until you leave it for greener pastures.

A few hundred peaks and a few thousand pitches later and I can say my perspective is pretty solid. Philly is not an outdoor town or a climbers town. Many of my non-outdoorsy friends like it, my outdoorsy friends have all moved away.


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By Brassmonkey
Jun 10, 2013
Brass monkey

Illeism. Got it.

I agreed with you that philly isn't a climbing city for sure, but its not a shithole or an angry dump. The people here aren't going to sugarcoat things for you though, thats for sure. Some people can't handle that.

For the record I didnt grow up here either, I moved here.

Also some find that the grades in this area of the country are too sandbagged for them so they move on to greener pastures ;).


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By lucander
From Stone Ridge, NY
Jun 10, 2013
Lucander off the GT Ledge on p. 2 of Keep on Struttin.

It's always sunny in Philly!

Seriously,though - any city with a rep for mean sports fans (Philly, NYC, Oakland) means that it's an angry city with not enough trees for people to mellow out at.


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By Merlin
From Grand Junction
Jun 10, 2013

Brassmonkey wrote:
Illeism. Got it. I agreed with you that philly isn't a climbing city for sure, but its not a shithole or an angry dump. The people here aren't going to sugarcoat things for you though, thats for sure. Some people can't handle that. For the record I didnt grow up here either, I moved here.


I had to google Illeism, new word for me.

I actually did grow up in Philly.


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By Kelly P
From The Bubble, CO
Jun 10, 2013

I grew up in Philly, learned to climb(kind of) in Philly, and climbed on the PRG's youth climbing team. Then I graduated college. And moved to Boulder. It could be worse I guess, Haycock has some fun bouldering, the NRG is about a 10 hour drive but SO SO worth it. The PRG as far as gyms go are ok, nothing really hard there if that is what you are after, mostly casual social climbers. You won't find "serious" climbers like you will in other places but that could be good or bad depending on what you are looking for. A climbers city it is not, but it is tolerable. And you can't beat Wawa...

:) Or the Ritas


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By Merlin
From Grand Junction
Jun 10, 2013

Kelly P wrote:
I grew up in Philly, learned to climb(kind of) in Philly, and climbed on the PRG's youth climbing team. Then I graduated college. And moved to Boulder. It could be worse I guess, Haycock has some fun bouldering, the NRG is about a 10 hour drive but SO SO worth it. The PRG as far as gyms go are ok, nothing really hard there if that is what you are after, mostly casual social climbers. You won't find "serious" climbers like you will in other places but that could be good or bad depending on what you are looking for. A climbers city it is not, but it is tolerable. And you can't beat Wawa... :) Or the Ritas


I won't agree with tolerable but I'll plus 100 WAWA, my wife agrees with RItas. Its darn hard to beat a made to order hoagie at 3 AM with fresh milk and coffee.

I wonder how many Philly transplants there are? I moved to Boulder for seven years, so did the guy in the office next to me. He's a huge Philly Eagles fan and doesn't share my views but then again we both live in western Colorado (Junction to be precise) these days. :)

My favorite area back there was Ricketts Glen and I guess Temple University was very good to me. The two things I miss most about Philly are the driving and the really good food. Drive really fast to really good food. Out here, drive really slow to really mediocre food.


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By Chris Blanchard
Jun 10, 2013

Haha this thread is awesome! But just for the record I am already from Philly .. Just started climbing after I left the city at 19 years old. I know of the surrounding areas as well due to my folks still living there.

The question that still looms is ... Are there a lot of climbers in the city or surrounding areas? Or is it lacking the because the distance to good climbing is too far?

A good point was brought up - 'loving climbing so much a few hour drive isn't a big deal'. I would say that is common amongst our people but to start loving would be difficult without good areas or a big badasss sport/boulder gym.


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By Merlin
From Grand Junction
Jun 10, 2013

Chris Blanchard wrote:
Haha this thread is awesome! But just for the record I am already from Philly .. Just started climbing after I left the city at 19 years old. I know of the surrounding areas as well due to my folks still living there. The question that still looms is ... Are there a lot of climbers in the city or surrounding areas? Or is it lacking the because the distance to good climbing is too far? A good point was brought up - 'loving climbing so much a few hour drive isn't a big deal'. I would say that is common amongst our people but to start loving would be difficult without good areas or a big badasss sport/boulder gym.


Well, I was a huge outdoor person in Philly, I'd drive to Maine every year. Climbing wasn't even on my radar then because no one did it. Maybe after 11 years it has changed.

I spent a year in Rochester New York for a post doctorate and tried the Dacks and Gunks and maybe it was just me at that point but after climbing out west they all seemed kind of not worth the drive. The backpacking and fishing are good in the NE and there is great whitewater and climbing farther south but for climbing its a bit of a let down even with big drives.

Where I live now its a given that I drive 2-5 hours for climbing and canyoneering but the destinations make the drive worth it.


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