If you’re the rare New Yorker that has a driver’s license, you had to first learn how to drive. It’s unlikely that someone tossed you the keys and said good luck. Your instructor taught you how to use the controls and they probably had an emergency brake. In other words, training wheels.
Learning to climb is a bit similar, in that you might know how to do it from watching others, but, really, it’s helpful to have some instruction. If you’re a pretty good climber and you spend a bunch of time around Greenpoint, we fully endorse GP81. If you’re a total newbie, looking to try out climbing for the first time, you’re better off going somewhere like The Cliffs or Brooklyn Boulders.
GP81 is a true community gym and it feels like something you’d find in Portland, ME. The industrial type building sits by the waterfront with a big garage door at the front. Inside, you’ll find people of all ages climbing and hanging out. The gym sports picnic tables where you can chill and play chess in between climb attempts (or post up and watch the experts when your own arms, shoulders, and even fingers are too fatigued to continue). And there’s local craft beer— because, of course. But, you should know they don’t do birthday parties. They are not that kind of place.
The pricing is hard to beat, coming in at $23 for a day pass and $93 for a monthly pass, which includes access to all 6,500 square feet of climbing terrain and the training equipment in the back room. Plus, their hours are good. Beyond workouts and barbecues, GP81 is the kind of place where people feel comfortable dropping in for a quick climb in their street clothes, and what’s more inspiring than those who can casually squeeze in a quick bouldering sesh while they are in jeans?
For novice climbers, we should mention there are no belays here, so it’s a bit different than the rock walls you climbed as a kid. And even though it’s not extremely beginner drop-in friendly, if you’re looking to make this your community, you’ll be embraced with open arms. See their community-oriented Instagram for proof.
For the advanced climbers, we’ll share that GP81 touts having two moon boards, but we have no idea what that actually means. There are also a few 1990s era Lifetime Fitness machines in the back. So you can do some strength training and cardio in the name of bettering your climbing.
Regardless of your ability, there are a bunch of routes and they’re all clearly marked by difficulty using the standard V scale, with climbs starting at the novice V0 level. They also switch out the paths frequently so even if you never make it past V0, you’ll still stay engaged week-to-week. GP81 is a great place to hang out with friends, especially if one of you knows how to actually climb so they can show the others the ropes, er, boulders.
— Photo Credit: Active Spaces.