Unfortunately, rock climbing in Indiana is illegal. While there are places it can be done down South, they are a bit of a drive and it is highly frowned upon. However there are a few places outside of the state that aren’t too far of a drive. Rock climbing should not be attempted without proper training. A climbing gym (like Climb Kalamazoo) is the best place to get this training.
Climbing in South Bend
There are some limited options without leaving South Bend. They aren’t awesome, but here they are. If anyone is interested in investing a significant amount of either time or money into opening a real climbing gym in South Bend, let me know. I think it could potentially be very profitable and I can connect you with others that can help.
Rockne Memorial gym – If you are affiliated with Notre Dame, this is your cheapest and most convenient option. There are a couple wall routes, but its mostly a bouldering facility. Waiting for the wall to be clear can take patience, but the crowd is usually friendly. There is also an automatic moving wall to practice on. This facility is only availale if you are affiliated with Notre Dame or are a guest of someone who is.
Ray and Joan Croc Corp Community Center – If you aren’t with Notre Dame, this is the only other gym climbing you’ll find in town. Unfortunately its very small, has limited hours, and if you aren’t a member, it isn’t very cost efficient. The wall has four auto-belay lines. Waiting to get on one is not uncommon. The wall is only open between 4 and 7. And the cost for a one-day (which is only 3 hours) climb pass comes to $12.50. On a positive note, the staff is friendly and I found the routes to be fun.
Buildering – Buldering is the art of climbing man-made structures in urban settings. I won’t give any specific spots, but there are routes to be found. Take a ride around town and scope it out. This can be dangerous as well as illegal so be careful but have fun.
Home walls – One last option is to build you’re own wall. For less than $100 I built a nifty little practice wall in my living room. A friend of mine has constructed a more substantial gym in his garage. Its a fun project and can help keep you’re climbing muscles in shape.
Climb Kalamazoo – the closest gym to South Bend, this place actually has a really good selection of routes and the staff are friendly.
Ready to get out of town and onto some real rocks? Here are your options.
Grand Ledge – this is a small area located just outside East Lansing. There are no bolts, however access to anchors above is easy for setting up top ropes. Do not attempt to set up an anchor without an experienced person.
Mississippi Palisades State Park – this is not too bad for a weekend drive and has some nice routes overlooking the Mississippi River.
Starved Rock State Park – in the winter, if there is a good freeze, ice climbing can be done on the falls here. It’s best to call ahead and ask about the conditions if you are wanting to do this.
The most basic gear you will need is a climbing rope, a climbing harness, a belay device, and some carribeaners. As you learn more about climbing you will find that there is a whole world of gear that you can purchase for more advanced climbing which I won’t get into. My suggestion is to start with the basics and slowly build up your gear if you find that you enjoy climbing. You should always take extra special care of climbing gear because you really are putting your life in its hands. If something critical takes a hard fall, it’s probably a good idea to replace it.