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Hoboken NJ new climbing gym


Original Post
kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,047

Sharon and I tried the new Gravity Vault indoor gym, north side of Hoboken - [ see on Map ] - not far from Weehawken and the Lincoin Tunnel.

We had a good time there today: good route-setting both TR and Lead, spacious with tall routes, enough auto-belays - (didn't try the bouldering).

Only climbing gym in New Jersey open before 12 noon on weekdays, and we took advantage of that.

comparing other Gravity Vault gyms we know (Upper Saddle River + Chatham NJ):

* similar nice high-friction wall surface but different manufacturer - (unlike the slick wood at certain new non-GV city gyms).

* excellent Top-Rope routesetting as we expect.

* bolts for Leading closer than the "spicy" spacing at USR + Chatham - (perhaps not as close as many gyms western Europe) -- felt just right.

* holds for each route distinguished by color of hold, instead of color of attached tape -- like most modern non-GV city gyms.
. . . (My view is that this offers a neater look, but diminishes the effectiveness of the space for quality and quantity of climbing, so I hope the other GV gyms do not follow in this).

* texture of the holds like the best outdoor sandstone - (just got back from SouthWest Utah, so I was almost a bit sad that the most delightful-feeling outdoor rock could now be duplicated in any modern indoor gym).

Only drawback: Wish it were closer to good public transportation. Did not notice a bike rack.

. . . (? about 0.5 mile from 9th St light rail station, or 0.5 mile from Lincoln Harbor ferry or light rail).

. . . (? two parking garages nearby, tho we got lucky and found close street parking at reasonable rate).

Ken

Brett Broderick · · New York, NY · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Hey Ken,

Glad to hear your perspective on the new gravity vault. I live like two blocks from this gym and am so stoked to have a gym within walking distance of me (although no more excuses for not being a strong climber). I love the gym but don’t love the route setting so far. I’ve climbed at both bkbs and the cliffs in lic as well as some other gyms across the country. GVH’s routes seemed very un creative. Almost like climbing a ladder. I felt they only became more difficult by make the holds smaller. Granted I’ve only been climbing up to 5.10 there.  

I also cant believe how spaced out the moves are. I’m 6’6” and am doing dynos on 5.9s. My wife (who’s easily a 5.9 climber) can’t even do them. Simply because she can’t reach the holds. Maybe I need to get used to this style of climbing. But it just isn’t inpiring to me. 

I also don’t understand the grading of <=5.8 being the starting grade. This grade seems way to easy relative to other gyms and it makes the 5.9 grade way to wide. 5.9 can be everything from vertical jug hauling up a ladder to double dynos through an arch. Is this the same as other GV locations?

overall love the gym. Just hope they improve the routes in the future. 

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,800

Gravity Vault Poughkeepsie also starts at 5.8. The first "5.8" I climbed there was realistically a 5.3 or 5.4.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,047

I only climbed there once (since the only advantage of that gym for me is morning hours, not location) -- and climbed mostly the 5.8 + 9 Lead routes, so I cannot assess the quality of route-setting of the easier Top-Ropes. When leading I'm focused mainly on clipping stances and just getting to the top. I surely thought at least one of the (less-than-or equal-to) 5.8s and one of the 5.9 leads was rather fun. And at least one of the 5.9s which was also top-rope-able was pretty thoughtful.

Usually I'm pretty impressed with the setting on 5.8-11 TR climbs at the Gravity Vault gyms at Chatham and Upper Saddle River -- compared with TR setting at non-GV gyms in Utah, Nevada, France, Italy, Germany -- and my rather few visits in past years to The Cliffs LIC and BKB Brooklyn. After a few sessions of practice on some of the thoughtful sequences at Chatham or USR, I often find it flattering to visit other gyms in other regions and discover how easy it is for me to "read" the sequences.

. . . (even comparing with outdoor rock in those regions, there are few aretes or dihedrals as interesting as the arete and dihedral routes at Chatham GV. Just a couple weeks ago I was on a 5.10c on wonderful sandstone in SW Utah with a partner who regularly climbs at Cliffs LIC, and I climbed the crux sequence much more easily because I worked some thoughtful balancy moves on the arete, and I thought later that lots of exposure to a variety of creative arete sequences at Chatham GV helped me with that).

Just a guess about why Hoboken routes might feel less creative:
At Upper Saddle River and Chatham, the routes are distinguished by color of tape, not color of the hold. So a routesetter has complete freedom to choose any hold from any color-set of holds. So maybe the GV setters for Hoboken have not yet figured out how to deal with this new restriction on their selection of holds -- (since I think the Hoboken gym has been open less than two weeks now). Or perhaps management needs to purchase additional collections of holds in some of the colors to give the setters more options.

. . . (At least the Hoboken GV management chose an overall range of colors such that each color is readily distinguishable -- otherwise it especially gets to be a problem after the holds get chalked up. The start of the art at leading city gyms in France and Germany is to use bi-color holds to make them more distinguishable).

Ken

Brandon S · · Weehawken, NJ · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 1
Brett Broderick wrote:

 I love the gym but don’t love the route setting so far. I’ve climbed at both bkbs and the cliffs in lic as well as some other gyms across the country. GVH’s routes seemed very un creative. Almost like climbing a ladder. I felt they only became more difficult by make the holds smaller. Granted I’ve only been climbing up to 5.10 there.  


I am actually happy to hear this. Maybe I am boring, but I have speculated that the "interesting" BKB setting-style might not translate well to gains on real rock because a lot of them are unique party-trick style problems with movements that are rarely encountered outside.  I could see the appeal to both though.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,047
Brandon S wrote:

I have speculated that the "interesting" BKB setting-style might not translate well to gains on real rock because a lot of them are unique party-trick style problems with movements that are rarely encountered outside.

I'll guess that the divide between indoor setting and outdoor routes is only going to grow -- especially with climbing now an Olympic sport.

Already we see indoor routes moving toward using pinch holds and away from constrictions, while outdoor rock (especially USA) is much about cracks and little about pinches.

. . . (and for competition, it's very difficult to design crack sequences which are not much easier or harder depending on hand size -- while pinch sequences "scale" better).

For moderate routes, perhaps a more important divide is that outdoor routes are mostly less than vertical -- while few indoor routes at most gyms (in USA) are less than vertical (for insurance reasons).-- so outdoor footwork is (already) completely different from indoor footwork.

Ken

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 127
Gunkiemike wrote:

Gravity Vault Poughkeepsie also starts at 5.8. The first "5.8" I climbed there was realistically a 5.3 or 5.4.

This cracked me up. Gunks climbers talking about gym grades...

G Man · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 65
kenr wrote:

For moderate routes, perhaps a more important divide is that outdoor routes are mostly less than vertical -- while few indoor routes at most gyms (in USA) are less than vertical (for insurance reasons).-- so outdoor footwork is (already) completely different from indoor footwork.

Ken

lol. False.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,047

What's new on our third visit this morning ....

Early hours 6 am opening Tue + Thu mornings for the month of January.
. . (not on their web page, which seems to have even less detailed info than their Facebook).

Getting here, what I learned new: 

Bus seems to be more convenient than train or light rail
 . . like if a friend is visiting from Manhattan, try the 119 or 126 bus from Port Authority, goes to a short block or two east from the climbing gym.

Parking . . . did better finding on-street parking -- looked more to the north this time. The fee is reasonable (ticket kiosk takes credit cards as well as coins), some 4-hour spaces, but this time we went for a 2-hour space and set my phone timer to take a break from climbing for another ticket).

Not much else new (except that I found the campus board upstairs).

Said they're expecting to start a normal cycle of replacing with new routes (and perhaps filling in more routes) in February. So then we'll get a sense of what is their long-term setting style.
. . . I continue to feel their startup setting so far is good enough for some fun and for training (so Sharon and I have come back two more times) -- even if not as creatively briliiant as some of the setting at Chatham GV and Upper Saddle River GV -- (which alas I'm expecting to become less brilliant as those established gyms make the transition to the modern practive of "prettier" designation of routes by hold color instead of tape).

Ken

richard azierski · · Hoboken · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

kenr - w/r/t parking, one block uptown on 16th is basically all free parking. My S/O parks there overnight a couple days a week without a problem. The rite aid parking lot on the other side the viaduct is also good for non-overnight parking. 

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
Gunkiemike wrote:

Gravity Vault Poughkeepsie also starts at 5.8. The first "5.8" I climbed there was realistically a 5.3 or 5.4.

I hear that gym is super soft. Like 10+ is like 12- there.

Mashanya · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

Went there for the first time this weekend and agree on 2 things with Brett- non- creative route setting, compared to BKB and their route setters have no idea how to set for different height. I understand that 30ft walls in BKB make creativity a need, but I would miss a lot those wondering routes, use of different walls and crazy beta. Climbing is a sport, but it's attractive to me personally because it makes me use my brain. Climbing in Hoboken didn't made me stop and think even once. All routes I climbed (5.8 to 5.11) are vertically going straight up like ladder, harder routes use worse holds. That's it. 

I'm 5.7 with negative ape index. Each route made my reach for every move by getting on my tips. I can't say it's reachy, it's set for one height, I'm not sure what climbers under 5.5 are suppose to do. Jump on each move? 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,047

I've been climbing at some other Gravity Vault gyms in New Jersey in the past couple of weeks, and I'll that the GV organization surely has routesetters working for them who can set way more interesting Top-Rope routes than most of what we've seen so far at Hoboken GV.

So I'm going with the positive hope that GV management will transfer some of that capability to their Hoboken location as they start into their regular cycle of replacing with new routes in February.

Ken

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
kenr wrote:

I've been climbing at some other Gravity Vault gyms in New Jersey in the past couple of weeks, and I'll that the GV organization surely has routesetters working for them who can set way more interesting Top-Rope routes than most of what we've seen so far at Hoboken GV.

So I'm going with the positive hope that GV management will transfer some of that capability to their Hoboken location as they start into their regular cycle of replacing with new routes in February.

Ken

Isn't Gravity Vault a franchise? 

If so, I'd assume that the franchisee is on their own for staffing. One would hope they have a good training program for their setters, but good setting isn't something that happens overnight- it takes a lot of time and dedication. 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,047

GV offers franchising. Some locations are franchises, others are "corporate". My best understanding is that Hoboken GV is owned and directly operated by the main GV corporation.

The GV locations at Chatham NJ + Upper Saddle River NJ are also owned and operated directly by the main GV corporation -- and in the last couple of weeks I've found Top-Rope routesetting at those locations more creative + interesting than Hoboken -- (also more interesting TR than many gyms I've tried in France Italy Germany Utah Nevada + New York).

What I heard was they set the initial routes in a hurry and with unfamiliar support equipment (hoist truck?) + unfamiliar monocolor (non-tape) hold sets -- just to get the gym open. Didn't even get all hold sets for each color out of the boxes, and since then have ordered more hold sets for some of the colors.

So Hoboken has rather good setters + other resources available -- GV corp management just needs to start the cycle of using it (which likely will trigger some further learning + improvements).

Ken


John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

The first set at any gym is rarely the best one, if even a good one. Too much new stuff to produce excellence. 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,047

Parking -- did better this time at finding on-street parking a block N toward 16th St.

GV also now has a 3-hour deal w Parking garage indoors -- perhaps need to arrange first before parking there - (check website or phone ahead)

Opening early Tue + Thu 6:00am continuing so far, but keeping it informal - not on website - so phone in advance if not sure.

Bike locking posts now installed on sidewalk by main entrance.

Gym lockers now installed.

Next Sharon+I sample the results of them start of their regular Route-setting cycle.

Ken

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,047

Tried about 8 or 10 of the new routes -- set late Jan and early Feb -- up to 5.11s. Interesting enough for me. Especially enjoyed the new Lead routes.

Not quite as creative as what I expect of Top-Ropes at Gravity Vault locations Chatham or Upper Saddle River. My guess is that one explanation is that the Hoboken routes are taller, so it's hard for a setter to sustain that level of creativity. Also the use of mono-color holds does not give the setter as much freedom of choice as marking w color tape.

Difficulty grades continue to be easier than GV Chatham and GV Upper Saddle River. I guess Hoboken is proving that it's a true big city gym.

Ken

Jerry Wu · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 45

i super agree with the height dependent movement qualms.  i'm 5'8 with +3 ape.  i like the walltopia walls and the bolts are super not spicy.  

so, awesome gym.  weird reachy setting.  i have a feeling that none of their setters are under 6 feet.  oh, flashed a v7 and bailed on v3??   

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 15,047

Sharon and I have been enjoying the unofficial 6 a.m. early opening time - only on certain days (phone ahead to check). Only place in NJ can (sometimes) climb before 9 in the morning - (and almost the only place can climb on weekdays before 12 noon).

Definitely been enjoying the Leading on closely spaced bolts. My feeling is that style of the hold sets is unabashedly "indoor" -- mostly not trying to simulate the experience of grasping outdoor rock. Unlike Chatham GV and USR GV and my favorite gyms in the French Alps. Also I'd say that the Top-Rope setting at Chatham GV and USR GV is a bit more sophisticated / sustained thoughtful, so I tend to find Hoboken TR routes easier to "read" (but I recall at least on brilliantly creative 5.12 at Hoboken).

Caution on leading is that (like many USA gyms) some of the clipping stances are not favorable (or safe?) - (unlike France where I generally trust that the clipping stances will be appropriate for the difficulty grade, tho I would not say they are all "safe" to fall while making the clip - "safe" as in What you'd hit if you fell while clipping).

I don't know about the Boulder problems at Hoboken, but I have not found the Top-Rope moves at 5.11 or less at Hoboken to be especially reachy -- and I'm at most average male in reach and height.

Ken

P.S. On-street parking to the north has continued to work well for us, so we have not felt any urge to use the coverered-garage parking offered on the GV website.

Mashanya · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

If it's not reechy for an average male it becomes automatically reechy for average woman (average man 5'91/2" average woman 5'4")

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northeastern States
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