Day 20: Planet Rock Climbing Gym


Plant Rock Climbing Gym. Photo by Jack Durham

Planet Rock Climbing Gyms brings a truly awesome experience to the Southeast Michigan region. Surprisingly, you don’t need to leave the state to experience some of the country’s best indoor rock climbing. Although climbing isn’t one of the activities you would expect to be huge in the Midwest, Planet Rock has two world class climbing centers in Pontiac and Ann Arbor that make learning and practicing accessible to everyone. The Ann Arbor gym, which opened in 2001, was the largest in the country at the time, and it is still one of the best to this day.

Whether you just want to learn for a day, or are an expert that dreams of climbing the world’s toughest walls, Planet Rock offers great challenges for beginners and experienced climbers year round. Both locations offer the typical vertical climbing, as well as bouldering, where climbers reach no more than five feet from the ground so no ropes or harnesses are needed. Climbers can either choose to take an adventure and climb a route only using grips marked by a colored tape, or simply climb the path of least resistance. The marked routes are one of the great benefits of indoor climbing; holds can be set to accommodate any difficulty level. Both locations also have a rock tread wall – the climbing equivalent of a treadmill – for continuous climbing only a couple feet off of the ground.  Serious climbers can also choose to purchase equipment of their own, as both locations have climbing shops. The best part is, those who hold a pass get a discount of 10-15%!

Photo by Jack Durham

Planet Rock strives to be more than just “a place to go.” There are always some exciting events and ways to get involved. Ann Arbor and Pontiac both have summer camps for kids to get out of the house and burn energy on the walls. Planet Rock also facilitates racing for those who want to see how they match up with some of the area’s best. Planet Rock Ann Arbor was recently home to a division climbing competition, where the winners earned points towards an invitation to the national championships. Competitors came from many states, and as far away as Texas. On Thursdays, Planet Rock has a feature called Crank Night where they are open until 11PM with a live DJ.

Planet Rock is a great place to go and try something new. It is sure to be an enjoyable experience for adults and kids alike. There are a large variety of options for passes, so frequent climbers can choose whichever pass suits them best. There are monthly passes in ranges of one, three, and six months, 10 and 20 punch passes that allow 10 or 20 visits at any times, and annual passes. Couples and families can receive discounts on annual passes, and children’s passes are always discounted. If you just want to give it a try, you can get a lesson and days pass for an affordable price. Both locations are open seven days a week, and late into the evenings on weekdays so it is still possible to get some quality climbing in after work! Check out Planet Rock for a world class rock climbing experience in the mitten. ~Jack Durham, Regional Director

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The Awesome Mitten was born when I moved back to Michigan from Nashville, TN in September 2010. Almost immediately, I became frustrated. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t more Michigan residents singing our states praises! I was so irritated, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. Three weeks later, I had started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a landing page for the website, determined to do something to make Michigan residents aware of all the cool things going on in their own state. Email me: