A Guide to Indoor Rock Climbing at El Muro

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Indoor Rock Climbing

Indoor rock climbing is one of the many ways you can stay fit in Medellin. It’s much more exciting than running on a treadmill for an hour but not as risky as outdoor climbing.

I got the chance to visit Medellin’s indoor climbing facility El Muro, and learn all about one of the city’s most thrilling sports, as well as have a go myself!

What is Indoor Rock Climbing?

A woman climbing an blue wall

For those who aren’t familiar, indoor rock climbing refers to any climbing that takes place inside the confines of a building, typically on a specially built, fake rock wall. 

This type of climbing is ideal. You can practice regardless of weather conditions, and it’s very hard to actually injure yourself as the floor is covered with foam mats. 

Although climbing experts tend to only use the indoor wall for practice, it’s a great form of exercise for beginners or intermediates and can help build your technique.

There are many rock climbing styles, but it’s handy to know the basics that best relate to the indoor form.

  • Top-roping – Climbing with a partner and rope.
  • Lead/ Sport – Climbing using fixed anchors on the wall 
  • Bouldering – Climbing shorter walls without any rope, and using grips

About El Muro Climbing Center

A group of rock climbers

The Laureles center was founded 20 years ago by Colombian rock climbing expert Gerson Areiza. His goal was to introduce climbing to new audiences and provide a safe space for climbers of all ages to practice and have fun. 

The company also offers opportunities for participants to get out in nature with regular outdoor climbing excursions.

Their two-story building is hard to miss, illuminating its residential street with a bright orange exterior. The climbing space itself is one medium-sized room broken into four sections.

It has tall walls, perfect for rope and harness climbing, and smaller walls for more focused practice. 

If you want to build some strength before climbing, you can head upstairs to the mini gym. Equipped with free weights, suspension ropes, and yoga balls, it’s a great place for a pre-game workout. 

With a kitchen, balcony, and indoor plants, it feels very homey and exudes a warm family-type vibe. Their group event, nature excursions, and meet-ups help foster a friendly and close-knit community. 

When I asked instructor Sergio if the storage shelves were lockable, he replied “sure, but don’t worry; you won’t need it here!”

What is a Session Like?

Rock climbing shoes

After ringing the buzzer, you will be welcomed in, led upstairs to the reception, and asked if you need climbing shoes. If you’re a beginner like me, then the answer is yes. 

The climbing shoes are very different from normal sneakers. I found that they dramatically affect how well you grip the wall with your feet. 

Once I had put my things in the locker, instructor Sergio led me downstairs. He has built up 18 years of climbing experience. Sergio diligently explained the basics to me, and then I was off!

Now, El Muro offers guided sessions with instructors and courses. However, I opted for a solo climb. Here I could get a climbing taster and, naturally, figure things out on my own, which I prefer.

How to Climb?

Grips or ‘dams’ are colorful artificial stones that are securely drilled into the walls. They follow a range of unique shapes and sizes. You grab onto these, with your feet and hands, to climb. 

They cover every inch of the walls, meaning you can literally scale the ceiling! 

However, it takes incredible upper body strength to glide along the ceiling like Spiderman; not that I didn’t try. 

Remembering Sergio’s wise words, I horizontally made my way across the walls, my feet clinging onto whatever grips I could find, my mind strategically analyzing every next move, and my hands feeling around for the best grip.

Don’t worry about falling! On most walls, you’ll only be a meter or two from the matted ground. You’ll also feel when you are about to fall and can quickly plan for the safest landing.

Climbing the Big Walls

A woman climbing a big indoor wall

Big wall climbing is probably the most notorious form of the sport. Images of experts scaling 1500ft mountain sides probably come to mind. 

Although it is indeed more perilous, it comes with a greater reward and sense of accomplishment. 

El Muro’s tallest big wall, standing at a considerable 8 meters high, is an excellent introduction to this form of climbing. 

I wouldn’t recommend it to a complete beginner, but if you want a challenge, you’ll first need a spotting partner and a harness and rope. You can rent both from El Muro.

Types of Sessions

A man receiving help as he climbs a wall

As mentioned before, El Muro offers an extensive range of sessions and courses, from basic solo climbs to advanced courses and group training:

  • Climbing day (1 day pass) – $23,000 COP
  • Climbing day + shoes  (1 day pass) – $28,000 COP
  • Climbing session with instructor – $49,000 COP
  • Basic course – $255,000 COP
  • Advanced course – $363,000 COP

For more rates and details, have a look at the El Muro website

What To Wear

Most climbers wear loose, breathable clothing like shorts, t-shirts, and long pants. It’s important that you feel comfortable and the clothing doesn’t restrict your movement. 

You may want to ensure your knees are protected by wearing pants that cover that area. For ladies, stretchy leggings should be fine for your first few sessions. 

Don’t worry about footwear, as you can rent climbing shoes from El Muro!

How to Get There

A man indoor rock climbing

The center is located in Medellin’s residential neighborhood Laureles. It’s walkable if you live in the area. 

The center is situated close to Pontifical Bolivarian University, with the nearest metro station being Parque Belen; however, it’s still a 20 minutes walk to the building.

However, if you’re coming from further away, taking a taxi may be more convenient. 

Address: Cq. 73A #38-82, Medellín, Laureles, Medellín, Antioquia

When to Visit

The quieter periods of the weekdays are from 2 pm to 6 pm and are ideal if you appreciate a less busy environment. However, you’ll have space to climb at whatever time you decide to go. 

Opening times: 

Monday to Friday – 2:30 – 21:30

Saturday –  2:30 -17:30

Sunday – Closed

A Guide to Indoor Rock Climbing at El Muro

Indoor rocking climbing is a more exciting way to stay fit in Medellin. El Muro has something for everyone, whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro. So, in the words of the center’s expert climber Sergio, come, have fun, and grab every grip!

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