Brooke Weil climbing at Metro (photo by Francesca Caiazzo)
Whether you are into the social bouldering experience with local climbers and college students around the Boston area or you prefer the quiet tranquility of a morning climbing session with your belay partner, MetroRock Boston (or simply “Metro”), located in Everett, is a comfortable environment for all. Open seven days a week as, Metro accommodates people who want to use the climbing gym before work (or 10:30 class), as a place to drop off the kids after school for a couple hours to burn themselves out, and for the experienced climbers who come to train for the next competition or adventure.
When you approach Metro, you feel as if you’ve come to the wrong place. Like many other climbing gyms, the building looks like (and is in fact) an old warehouse kind of plopped in the middle of everything else. The vast parking lot can be empty at nine in the morning, or packed to absolute capacity at six in the evening. Inside, you find the bright colors of plastic holds, blue ropes, crash pads, and geometrical formations that are commonplace to climbing gyms.
However, unlike Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) or other more “hip” climbing centers, Metro is about the climber, not the country club experience. The staff is extremely approachable and form personal relationships with regular climbers. I often seek out the advice of different setters (employees, and fellow climbers, whose job it is to set the climbs in the gym) without any problem. Some of the employees bring their dogs to work, which emulates the outdoor climbing experience. The setters often re-set the climbing problems every six weeks, which allows climbers enough time to try out their projects, but not too much time so that people get bored. Metro is known for challenging but fun routes that stimulate both the body and the brain.
There is no social hierarchy that is found at other climbing gyms—everyone is friendly and supportive. Many college students, from Tufts, Northeastern, Harvard, MIT, BU and others climb for the first time at Metro, and then join their school’s club climbing team (coached by Metro employees). Metro also offers free yoga classes to its members and has a fully loaded gym in the back of the building so climbers can lift weights and train after a session of climbing. Kids often have birthday parties here, where parents can feel safe as their children climb up and fall down onto mats.
Metro isn’t cheap to climb on an every so often basis—it costs $14 to boulder per day and $16 to top rope (along with the $3 for a harness) per day. The staff encourages its customers to buy membership passes, either for three or four months for $150 or the annual membership, which is $595 for students (I personally go with the four month membership each semester).
This is probably the biggest problem I have with Metro; the barrier to entry due to cost creates a certain demographic of people that climb. Of course, Metro works with local Boston area public schools to expose as many people as possible to climbing. However, you typically have to either love climbing so much that paying for the membership (which doesn’t include your own shoes, harness, ropes, etc.) is worth it, or that you have the financial access to do it.
The other issue with Metro that I have is that it can get rather dirty, which some of the local hardcore climbers love. Because the gym is focused on the climber and not the luxurious “all expenses paid for” feel of other Boston area climbing gyms, Metro can often come off as a bit grimy. The mats are terribly cluttered with chalk and stains (some of which can be very questionable), and the holds can get greasy.
Metro is the climbing gym of Boston. Climbers who are new to the area often try out BKB and Metro and end up sticking with one, depending on the experience that they want to have. If you really enjoy climbing, from a novice level to competing in the Darkhorse and Iron Maiden competitions held at Metro, this is the place for you. Metro has a free van service that picks up customers at the Orange line stop in Everett, or is about a 15-minute drive from the Cambridge area.