The climbing wall, located in the IM Building, stands at over 40 feet tall with 16 climbing lanes capable of both top rope and lead climbing. Our climbing wall offers fun, recreational climbing opportunities for all climbers, regardless of experience or ability. Our state-of-the-art wall features up to 50 routes (for climbers of all abilities), two climbable crack systems, a rappel ledge, and a teaching area for skills and clinics.
Access to the climbing wall for all students is free during “open recreation” hours. Lead climbing and additional hours are available with the purchase of a Climbing Wall “Access Pass.”
Purchase the Climbing Wall Access Pass online on the Campus Recreation website under the Membership tab.
The Bouldering Wall
The bouldering wall is located down the hallway from the climbing wall and offers an additional space for un-roped climbing. Use of the 14-foot tall bouldering wall is also free for students during all open hours of the IM Building. All you need is a pair of climbing shoes and a bouldering orientation from one of our staff and you are ready to go.
Courses & Clinics
Sign up for all courses and clinics online at pennstatecampusrec.org or in person at the Outdoor Adventures office, located in Room 18 in the IM Building.
- Lead Climbing Clinic
This is a one-time, four-hour clinic designed for established climbers wanting to learn how to lead climb at Penn State's Climbing Gym. Participants must be Top Rope Belay endorsed and should be capable of climbing on Top Rope a grade of 5.9 or harder.
- Rock Tech 101
Are you new to climbing and want some expert tips and technique advice? Well look no further! This two-hour clinic provides instruction from our nationally certified instructors to fine tune your abilities and help you progress to your next goal.
- Gym to Crag
Are you a climber wanting to take your skills outside of the gym to real rock but aren’t sure how to make it happen on your own? This three-part clinic series is just the ticket to go from the gym to the crag. This series will teach you the skills necessary to effectively set up and take down your own climbing anchors outside as well as several risk considerations involved with being at an outdoor climbing area.
- AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor
This course addresses the basic technical skills necessary to manage an instructional program at a climbing facility. The course length is a minimum of 20 hours of instruction, skills demonstration, and evaluation, typically run over 2.5 days. CWI Certification lasts for three years. This course aims to increase the level of professionalism in indoor climbing and to improve the level of climbing wall instruction, to develop a more consistent standard of care for climbing instructors in the US, to evaluate the skills of climbing instructors in the US, and to provide guidance for further professional development.
For more information and questions, please check our Climbing FAQ to answer possible questions.
- Climbing FAQ
Do you need previous climbing experience?
- No previous experience is necessary to use our climbing and bouldering walls. You will need to go through a climbing gym orientation with one of our staff on your first visit to inform you of all our policies.
Can I climb if I come alone?
- Yes. Bouldering is always available and is a great way to meet other climbers while you’re getting stronger and building your technique. We also have an auto belay that enables you to climb on the roped wall by yourself.
Will there be someone available to belay me?
- While our staff members are usually stoked to belay, it is not their job while supervising. However, the climbing wall is a great place to meet new people and be a part of a supportive community.
Can I bring my own climbing gear?
- You may bring your own shoes and personal harness as long as it meets our requirements. Harnesses must be UIAA approved (specifically made for rock climbing) and be manufactured within the last 5 years. Our staff will approve at their discretion and will require you to sign a personal equipment waiver before using it. All other gear necessary to climb is provided by us.
How do I get belay trained?
- For top rope climbing, you will need to take our free belay clinic with one of our certified instructors. Once you’ve learned and demonstrated all of the necessary skills (passing our belay test), you will be endorsed to belay at the wall. Note that belay clinics are only offered during Open Recreation hours, and not during Access Pass hours.
How do I learn how to lead climb?
- You will need to sign up for our lead clinic. This clinic will teach the basics of lead climbing indoors. Climbers interested will need to have their top rope belay endorsement and demonstrate the ability to climb 5.9 or above prior to signing up.
If I already know how to belay, do I have to take the belay clinic?
- If you are already an experienced climber, you can opt out of the clinic and take the belay test. However, you must pass all aspects of the test without any coaching in order to receive the endorsement. A lead climbing skill test is also available, but you must have a partner to take the test. If you do not pass you must take the appropriate clinic before you can test again.
How can I learn more about climbing?
- We offer a variety of educational and skill building workshops throughout the year. The Outdoor Adventures Office also maintains a fairly comprehensive resource library so you can check out books and learn on your own.
What’s the deal with all the colored tape on the wall?
- The tape marks individual climbing routes. Think of it as different levels of challenging paths to get to the top. Each route is unique and offers a different style and challenge. At the bouldering wall our routes (commonly called “problems”) are set with the same color holds (no tape). These routes and problems are changed throughout the year, so enjoy them while they last.
What do the numbers on the routes mean?
- The numbers at the start of each route or problem denote its level of difficulty or grade. For the roped routes, we follow the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) and for boulder problems, we use the Hueco V-scale. Both follow the same principle; the higher the number, the harder the climb. All route grades are very subjective and change from place to place.