There have been limited options for a complete climbing experience in the Metro Detroit area for many years now. There are a few other indoor climbing gyms around, but none offer such a wide variety of ropes climbing and bouldering. Until now!
Enter DYNO Detroit – a state-of-the-art indoor rock climbing gym located in the heart of Detroit. This is the city’s first indoor rock climbing gym (the other ones in Metro Detroit are located outside of the city limits), and in my opinion, is one of the best climbing gyms I’ve ever been to!
During winter in the Midwest, you may need to get creative to find something indoors to do with your friends that aren’t just bowling or going to the movies. Even if you’ve never climbed before, I think this is one of the most unique, fun, and challenging group activities you’ll find in the Detroit area!
And as part of this year’s #MIAwesomeList, we were encouraged to find a creative way to gather with friends. I would say this really nailed it!
What Can I Expect on My First Day at DYNO?
One of the reasons I love it here at DYNO is the wide variety of climbing types (which I’ll go into more detail about later). There’s a friendly atmosphere, all different skill levels of climbers, and there’s even a weight room and yoga classes offered to members!
Plus, the pricing is pretty fair- just $20 for a day pass and $5 for climbing shoes rental if you don’t have a pair of your own. And they do offer individual memberships for $79 a month and $69 a month for students.
The orientation for basic climbing is a pretty quick process. My friends and I were able to get through it in about 20 minutes. The instructors just go over the basics of climbing, safety regulations, and they explain the rating system for difficulty options for each route.
At DYNO, you’ll find a great variety of different types of climbing. There’s bouldering, top-rope climbing, auto-belay climbing, and sport climbing. And each option has different skill level route’s available, from beginner to expert.
Bouldering is my favorite style of climbing. In this style, you won’t be attached to the wall with a rope. Now, I know what you’re thinking- rock climbing without a rope sounds insane, right? Unless you’re on the skill level of pro-free solo climber Alex Honnold, this might sound like a death wish!
However, when bouldering, you’re only going up about 15 feet at the most. And there are huge pads underneath you, so if you do fall, you won’t be injured. Because there are no ropes involved, the intermediate to expert routes are typically more technical than the routes you’ll find on taller walls.
In this climbing method, you’ll be wearing a harness attached to a rope. There will be another person on the ground (called the “belayer”) holding the same rope that the climber is attached to through a belay anchor. This anchor is attached to the belayer’s harness. As the climber ascends the wall, the belayer pulls the slack through their anchor when necessary.
This method allows the climber to attempt more difficult routes because they can only fall a very short distance. This makes for a safe and reliable climbing experience. Top rope is also the most common style found in indoor climbing because of its ease of use. At DYNO, you’ll be required to attend an extended orientation to use the top-rope method.
For auto-belay climbing, you’ll be attached to the rope using your harness- just like all the other methods of rope climbing. The difference here however is that you don’t need another person for belay purposes. Instead, your rope will be attached to an “auto-belay” mechanism at the top of the wall.
This mechanism has constant tension while you’re climbing the wall, but also just enough slack to where it doesn’t aid you in your ascent. Then, if you fall, the auto-belay engages and keeps you from falling more than a few feet.
If you’re looking for some friendly competition, check out the two auto-belay routes next to each other and try to race a friend to the top. For my group, this made for some memorable moments (and led to some creative trash-talking in the process!)
Sport climbing is the method that I would say is only for intermediate to expert climbers. The reason for this is that you have to manually detach and reattach your carabiner (a latch device that connects your harness to the rope) as you ascend.
You’ll find secure anchor points along each route every few feet. So even if you fall while attempting to reattach, you’ll still be anchored to the anchor point below you. You’ll fall only a few feet max, which very rarely results in injury.
How Does The Rating System Work For Difficulty Levels?
There are two different rating systems used for determining route difficulty. One is used for bouldering, the other is used on traditional climbing routes that require ropes.
The Hueco System is used for bouldering here in America. It ranges from V0 to V16, with V0 being the easiest and V16 the most difficult. The more difficult options, like a V9 for example, will have tougher hand and footholds, longer spans in between holds, and sometimes a steeper angle on the wall.
The other system is called Yosemite Decimal System (or YDS) and it’s used for traditional climbing. This is typically used in America, while other countries use the French Scale.
The easiest route on this system would be 5.2, while an expert route would be 5.15.
I’m New to Rock Climbing- Where Should I Start?
For beginners, I highly recommend starting at the lowest difficulty level just to fully grasp the fundamentals of climbing. Maybe you have good enough strength, reach, and flexibility to attempt V2s or 3s right away. That’s great, but attempting routes that are above your skill level can cause your form and technique to suffer in the long run!
When I first started climbing, V0s and V1s were my best friends. Practicing on this level helped me understand the fundamentals of bouldering, and I certainly would have missed that if I had just started by attempting V2s or V3s.
So, as a rock climbing enthusiast, my personal goal is to focus on working my way up just one difficulty level at a time. I recommend trying to master a level before moving on to the next if you want to focus on technique. And in rock climbing, the technique is key!
So Why Should I Rock Climb to Begin With? What Makes it So Special?
In my experience, rock climbing has been a great way to challenge myself, keep in shape, and also meet like-minded people in the process. And after investing in some climbing shoes and maybe a chalk bag, the cost is pretty fair compared to many other hobbies!
If you’re anything like me, traditional indoor group activities get old after a while. Yes, bowling and laser tag are fun, but if the option exists, I would rather go somewhere that offers a more unique and memorable experience. DYNO offers exactly that, all while providing great exercise and the ability to challenge yourself and your friends in the process!
And let’s face it- winter makes it hard to get some good exercise indoors unless you’re going to a regular gym. And even if you work out regularly, wouldn’t it be nice to change it up sometimes and work for some different muscle groups?
You know what they say – variety is the spice of life!
Plus, I had a great day climbing with my buddies. Challenge completed, #MIAwesomeList!