“Climbing has one of the most balanced sets of physical, technical, and mental challenges amongst all sports,” says Joel Harvie, rockclimbing enthusiast. Harvie’s job at Wallnuts (57 Old Pennywell Road) involves engaging newer climbers and people who don’t really know what climbing is.

If you’re looking for a new obsession, you might find a new one in climbing. “Many of us daydream and obsess over completing our undone climbing test-pieces, spend all of our money travelling to famous rock faces while living out of a small tent for weeks, or sacrifice one career for another that accommodates going out climbing as often as possible,” says Harvie.

“Developing your skills as a climber allows you to constantly apply those skills and adapt them to new climbs, preserving the process of problem solving, and forcing you to use your mind and body for new movements each time you lace up your climbing shoes,” he says.

You don’t need anything to get started. The iron lats and deltoids of steel come later.

“People of all fitness levels can start climbing,” says Harvie. “There are variety of easy climbs set in the gym — three-year-olds manage to scale full routes, and people rehabilitating after injuries have a good selection of low stress climbs. We try to make our facility and the sport accessible to everyone.”

So, what are the first steps to your new vertical fixation? “I would recommend going indoors first,” says Harvie. “The intro package at Wallnuts includes all the gear you will need … The staff at the climbing gym are knowledgeable about all the equipment you’ll be using.” According to Harvie, the intro safety system is easier to operate than a microwave oven.

For those with little-to-no experience who are interested in trying out climbing, Wallnuts’ “Learn to Climb” package has all that you’ll need.

“The package includes an introductory lesson that takes about 30-45 minutes,” says Harvie. “The lesson covers the basic safety system needed to use the facility. It also includes an 11-day membership with all of the equipment included. This all costs $42 after taxes, which is a pretty sweet deal if you make the most of that 11-day membership.”

As with most hobbies, one of the greatest benefits is the community that’s attached to it. “We have a very strong community of climbers, which is always growing,” says Harvie.

“Climbing is very social … most people walking in off the street and trying the sport make friends very quickly.” The friendly atmosphere is boosted by the regular members events and competitions. “The gym also hosts team climbing leagues every fall and winter, grouping together climbers of all skill levels and encouraging the experienced to take the less experienced members of their team under their wings.”

When it comes to enthusiasm for their hobby, it’s hard to top climbers. “The never ending catalogue of climbs to choose from, and the many different styles of climbing for individuals to specialize in, allow us to happily live a liberating second life of vertical aspirations and adventure,” says Harvie.

“It is easy to get started, and with little commitment, anyone can embark on their own climbing pilgrimage.”