In Colorado, I’ve often been able to climb outside every month of the year. Notice, I didn’t say every day of every month – it does get below freezing here!
Some of my friends say: take up a Winter sport – like skiing! While that is an option, for now I still find myself obsessed with climbing, and would like to just do that.
But, trips out can get cancelled at the last minute due to swift weather changes in Colorado, so the default answer is: climb indoors!
I’ve been a member of ET since it opened a couple of years ago. As their website states: “The 29,000 sq ft purpose-built facility opened in 2013 and boasts over 28,500 sq ft of climbing on walls up to 45 ft high.”
The EarthTreks Golden facility, in my humble opinion, is world class. Two levels, high walls, great route setting for both Bouldering and lead/Top Rope – it’s my first recommendation for a good rock gym in the Denver area. The people who work there are also great – all climbers, all seem genuinely friendly and knowledgable.
Comparisons are often made between Movement Denver and ET, with most reviews tending towards giving ET the nod as the better gym. I’ve been to both gyms since I also tend to keep a punch pass for Movement, so I can give you some tips on why I prefer EarthTreks.
Why people prefer EarthTreks Golden:
- ET allows 6 free guest passes a year with their membership that can be used for any guest once per month. Movement only allows their guest passes to be used with people who have never been to Movement before.
- Lead rope availability is much higher at ET than at Movement. I’ve never personally had to wait for a lead rope at ET, but have had to multiple times at Movement.
- Less crowded at ET. I’ve seen boulderers waiting 4 deep at Movement, and the ropes area is typically a zoo during the prime after work hours of 5:30-7:30.
- ET has programmable locks for their lockers, with no lockers marked as “reservable.” Beyond the occasional malfunctioning locker I find this more agreeable than having “reservable” lockers that you have to pay for. I also like the convenience of never having to bring my own lock. Reservable lockers also leave one less for the rest of us.
- ET has a kids area on the 2nd floor, whereas Movement does not (as far as I know).
- Discount for shoes, clothing, equipment, etc, for members at ET.
- There’s a good amount of parking at ET, with overflow parking in the strip mall below the Gym, as well as at the Panoramic Orthopedic Center just above/next to the gym (after 5pm, and weekends). While the main parking lot can get filled up, there are options nearby. Compare this to Movement during peak hours, where you might find yourself walking a few blocks from some shady side streets when the main parking is filled.
What people like about Movement:
- Close to Downtown. I have partners that live in Downtown, so Movement is the natural choice.
- Long, overhanging lead wall. Steep is good for lead training – gets you strong with the sustained overhang.
- Free towels.
- Reservable lockers. Some people prefer to have their own lockers using their own locks, and are willing to pay for this convenience.
Some people say that both the staff and the climbers at ET, are much nicer than at Movement. I have met nice climbers at both, but I do think that the staff at ET seem nicer and genuinely enjoy working there. This translates to better customer service at ET in my experience.
The crowding at Movement may also create an “opportunistic” attitude of jumping onto routes without consulting those nearby who may have been lacing up for a go. I find this attitude and action less often at EarthTreks, as there’s usually a route open, even during rush hour.
I think the route setting is different at both, which makes sense given the different route setters, but I have found both to be professional and enjoyable. I do find that Movement Denver grading is harder than at ET, meaning a 5.10a at Movement is in general a tad harder than an equivalent 10a at ET. It could also be because when I climb at Movement I tend to stick mostly to the overhanging lead wall – which is both long as well as overhung the entire length. But, I’ve noticed this tendency to harder grading on the regular top rope area as well.
Boulder route setting is comparable between the two, it just tends to get crowded at Movement during prime hours.
Well, that sums up my feelings between the two gyms. Both are worldclass facilities, and you can get a great rock climbing session at both, yet in comparison I’m just glad that I live closer to EarthTreks. I like the benefits of ET in comparison to Movement, but don’t get me wrong: Movement is great too! ET is just a little bit better in my opinion, so if you are deciding between the two, all else being equal (distance, price, etc) I would tend towards ET.
It’s nice that we have such a great choice of gyms in the Denver area!
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