San Rafael climbing gym rocks Marin

Kate McHugh

Marin’s new rock climbing gym, The Gravity Vault Marin, officially opened on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 in San Rafael. This is The Gravity Vault’s first west coast location, and is exciting for rock climbers across Marin since they previously had to commute to San Francisco’s gym, Granite Planet, to climb. According to Scott Sklar, the manager of The Gravity Vault, a new local rock climbing gym is crucial because the last one in the county closed in 2008 after losing its lease. 

Perfecting an advanced course, Julian Macdonald visits the gym even when he is not working.

Senior Julian Macdonald works at The Gravity Vault and believes that having a rock climbing gym accessible to Redwood students is essential to help them unwind and have fun. 

“Climbing as a sport is not stressful. You motivate yourself, you challenge yourself and you can really go at your own pace,” Macdonald said. “It’s a great stress reliever.” 

Another benefit of rock climbing is the sense of camaraderie at the gym. Macdonald enjoys talking to different people and spending time in a supportive, laid-back environment. 

“Climbing gyms generally have a pretty chill atmosphere and they all have their own unique people who come all the time. It creates a sense of community in each gym and it’s great to be part of that,” Macdonald said.

Even though The Gravity Vault Marin has only been open for a few weeks, the gym has had unexpected success. While Sklar only anticipated a few hundred people on the gym’s opening weekend, thousands ended up coming to climb with their friends.  

“We were overwhelmed by the response [at The Gravity Vault],” Sklar said. “I just hope that this becomes a place where people can go and have a great time.”

Rock climbing is quickly growing in popularity everywhere, so much that the sport was just featured in its first-ever Olympic games this past year in Tokyo. Macdonald believes that one of the best parts about climbing is that anyone can do it, no matter their skill level. 

Practicing on V3, an intermediate course, is Cross Country runner Lulu Baker.

“I have a bunch of friends who have come for the first time and [really] enjoyed it. Honestly, anyone regardless of how athletic you are [can do it],” Macdonald said.

As for intermediate and advanced climbers, The Gravity Vault offers many challenging walls to test their skills. Max Denney, another employee of the gym, appreciates how the vast number of climbing obstacles ensure that climbers are never bored.

“[My favorite part is] the thrill of being really high [in the air],” Denney said. “It’s also super fun to be able to figure out problems while you’re climbing the wall and see how fast you can go.” 

Whether you are somebody who has never climbed before, or an expert ready to scale Mt. Everest, check out The Gravity Vault Marin any day from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM for $25, or go on Fridays to get a student discount of $14.