The cold of winter has settled in. I’m sure that we have all put in a little extra time on our couch wrapped up in our warmest blankets and dreaming of long summer days outdoors. Last month, while feeling as if I wasn’t getting in enough activity, my partner and I headed to Willsboro for a day at the Crux.
Nestled in the woods aside a long narrow Adirondack road you’ll find this strange, tall, slender structure. When I had first been told about the Crux, it was introduced to me as an indoor rock climbing “wall”. Naturally I greeted the idea of going with skepticism. When I heard “indoor rock climbing wall”, my first thought was, “long drive to climb a wall”. Good thing I don’t often listen to my first thoughts because I couldn’t have been more wrong. This “wall” in an entire rock climbing center created from the ground up for the optimal climbing experience.
The Crux has more than 3,200 square feet of climbing space with 17 separate anchor points. Each anchor point has two routes per anchor for varied difficulty. One trip to the Crux won’t be enough. The 22′ – 40′ tall climbing walls resemble the underside of lunch room tables all across America that appear to have been covered by various flavors of chewing gum. The routes vary in difficulty from easy to very hard indicated by the color of tape along the route. In addition to all of the climbing walls, The Crux also houses a bouldering cave and a repelling wall.
When we arrived, we were one of only two cars in the parking lot. The day’s snowfall had created slippery conditions keeping most people indoors.While reading through the rules, regulations, liabilities, and signing the dotted line, our instructors for the day, Blythe and Tim, gathered up our gear. Everything one needs to climb is provided on site so all we had to do was bring ourselves. Unlike my partner, This was my first visit to a rock climbing facility. My skepticism was far in the past and I was ready to strap myself together and tackle the walls! Our instructor Tim started us out on a 22′ wall with an easy route to learn the basics on how to climb and belay (control the slack from below). It’s no secret to the people who know me that I have a pretty serious fear of heights. This first “training wall” is only 22′ high and leans away from you to provide more security. In my mind I took to it like Spider Man, in reality I was probably more Sloth-like for my first try, but did still manage to reach the top without allowing the heights deter me. After about 45 minutes working with Tim on technique, safety, the various calls used between the one on belay and the climber, and conquering my fear of heights, we were set free to move about and climb on our own.
We tried our new-found skills on some more difficult climbs throughout the main level and top-level. With only one route proving more difficult than we beginners could manage, we made our way to the basement to check out the bouldering cave. We were not quite sure what it was we were supposed to do in the cave accept monkey around while attempting to move along the marked routes. Without success, we made great efforts at conquering this simple looking cave. We got a good laugh out of watching each other attempt, fail, attempt, and fail until our fingers were so sore we could barely hold on any longer. My partner did manage some pretty impressive maneuvers to keep himself clung to the ceiling, but I wasn’t quite as agile and spend more time on the floor.
My original pre-conceived notion of The Crux being a simple indoor rock climbing “wall”are forgotten forever. The “long drive” is now just a simple jaunt. I can now say, with confidence that this place is cool! The ultimate jungle gym! Inside, warm and dry, listening to music and climbing up walls is an experience not to be missed. We agreed after three hours of climbing that it was time to let our fingers take a break and fill up on some food at the Turtle Island Cafe just down the street. This was my first visit, but definitely not my last. I suggest that everyone try it out as well. The facility is geared toward all age groups so go beat those wintertime blues! Get your kids away from their game stations, pull yourself away from your television set, and get to the Crux for a memorable moment together. The welcoming and knowledgeable staff will be there to help as much as you need.
How to get there: From I-87 take Exit 33 (toward U-9/WILLSBORO/ ESSEX-FERRY).Follow NY-22 towards Willsboro for 5.5 miles.Turn right onto Reber Road and follow for 1.2 miles.Drive past Pok-O-MacCready Camp.Turn Left onto Rogers Lane and follow for .2 miles.The Crux Parking lot is located on the right.
For more information visit www.climbthecrux.com