In Hampden (Baltimore, MD), there is a mild-mannered looking building at the bottom of a winding hill. There’s a small sign reminding you that yes, the ice-cream and tea shops DO smell incredible, but you’re here to rock climb. A bit skeptical that there’s any such climbing gym around (I mean, can climbing compete with food?), you peer down the hallway and BAM! There’s a smack of color and chalky air and everything you’ve ever wanted. Immediately when you walk in, there’s a casual shop selling clothing, shoes, gear, and my personal favorite, climbing books. You’ll be greeted by a friendly staff, eager to help you out in any way they can (maybe partially in order to keep you from ditching and grabbing a cone…but hey, whatever works). After being checked in, you’ll head to the locker room, and let me tell you, you’ll feel like you’re in some futuristic movie. Trust me, it’s just that it’s a super modern and clean locker room…sorry if you were indeed expecting to be transported to a different century. Now that your expectations are sky-high, it’s time to exceed them by heading out into the gym.
This may sound blasphemous coming from an almost strictly ropes climber…but the bouldering at Earth Treks is PHENOMENAL. Initially disappointed that there were no ropes, I was blown away by how many boulder areas there are. As the saying goes, quality is more important than quantity…and this holds true at Earth Treks. Not only are there loads of walls and routes, the types of walls and routes is what distinguishes Earth Treks from other gyms. There’s slab (scary and reasonable), deep roofs (and others of varying degrees), aretes (that are actually on-route), and everything in between. Holds factor in largely to my opinions of gyms, and Earth Treks does not disappoint. Every hold had fantastic texture, and many I had never seen before or were used in a way I had never seen before. Lastly, but most importantly…the setting. Not a route-setter myself, I am very critical of sets, often annoyed at certain things like excessively tall routes, boring routes, or choppy/inconsistent routes. At Earth Treks, even routes that I warmed up on had an interesting flows. There were routes that played to my strengths and routes that played to my weaknesses. Some made me frustrated, and some I could not stop climbing (shoutout to this awesome orange V5). The point is, there was such variety of routes that it is impossible to be bored or, more importantly (depending on your point of view), not continuously develop as a rock climber. Diverse routes help you maintain your strengths and expand the scope of which you are capable, and Earth Treks in Hampden offers you these.
Whether you live in Baltimore or are just visiting, you’ve got to hit Earth Treks in Hampden. Make sure to browse the shop, try ALL of the walls, hit the extraordinary fitness area, and grab a bite on your way out (you’ll have earned it by then).