Don’t Look Down
Carmel’s Hoosier Heights Offers One-of-a-Kind Indoor Rock Climbing Experience
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Ellie Sophia Photography
Interested in trying out rock climbing as a new, invigorating pursuit with some friends or family members? Don’t book a flight out to Wyoming or Colorado just yet — Hoosier Heights in Carmel offers plenty of indoor rock-scaling action right here in Central Indiana.
General Manager Ryan Fischer says the facility, which opened in June of 2012, provides a safe, non-intimidating indoor rock climbing atmosphere for any age and skill level.
“It’s a full, inclusive climbing experience, and one of our main tenets is climbing can be for anyone,” says Fischer, a Logansport native who joined the Hoosier Heights team in 2014. “As all of us here got into the sport we realized this is something that could be accessible to the masses, so we’ve all worked really hard to create an environment that is welcoming and nonjudgmental.”
With sister facilities in Bloomington and Louisville, Hoosier Heights features walls over 40-feet high, as well as the Snake — a 25-foot overhang that stretches out above a foam pit.
“The Snake is by far our most popular feature, and it draws people from everywhere,” Fischer says. “It’s one-of-a-kind, and other facilities have tried to duplicate it around the world but it’s really unique. You can climb to the top with no ropes or harness, and if you fall, you fall into a nice, fluffy marshmallow pit.”
Hoosier Heights is truly an all-ages affair — member and non-member kids up to around age 10 can participate in a two-hour, introductory Youth Climbing Club, which includes game-based activities that familiarize kids with the basics of safe climbing. The members-only Hoosier Heights Recreation Team is also for new climbers, but covers climbing technique, terminology and etiquette in detail.
“Then we have our intermediate team that starts to get a little more serious with more dedication involved,” Fischer says. “You can compete at that level at the USA climbing competitions around the tri-state area. After that, we have our Advanced team where things get really serious, and then our Elite team which are the best climbers in the gym. They’re basically little superheroes and compete at the national level.”
Fischer touts the sheer physical benefits of spending a day at Hoosier Heights, in addition to the fun participants typically have.
“It’s a total body workout,” he says. “You’re of course working all of the back and the pull muscles, but there’s a lot of static holding almost like doing a plank, where you’re flexing your calves, quads, glutes and your core. So you get quite the lower-body workout too. It’s as full-body of a workout as it gets.”
That’s not all. Hoosier Heights offers a yoga program and fitness area with treadmills, spin bikes, free weights and more. Those interested in further diversifying their exercise routine can also explore the Dojo, which houses obstacle courses similar to those featured on the “American Ninja Warrior” television show as well as resistance equipment like dumbbells and TRX bands.
“One other thing that I don’t think many people realize is that climbing is like vertical chess, and you have to figure out how to get from point A to point B using just your body,” Fischer adds. “There’s a mind game to it that can be very satisfying when you figure it out.”
Hoosier Heights can accommodate group parties and lock-ins for young crowds, and also features a gear shop with snacks, books and apparel.
“A lot of the other climbing gyms out there are great but it can be a little more intimidating in other places,” Fischer says. “We really wanted to focus on taking away that intimidation factor so everyone can fall in love with the sport that we all love here.”
The Hoosier Heights staff has established the facility as a destination experience for customers from all four neighboring states, in addition to becoming a local fixture for seven years and counting.
“We’ve been really fortunate to enjoy the best parts of Hamilton County,” Fischer says. “It’s an honor to be part of the community. Not just our member base — we have a large fraction of users that come in for day passes and come back and enjoy a Saturday with their families.”
Fischer and his staff have seen customers young and old overcome initial apprehensions about the heights or physical demands involved in climbing and become repeat customers.
“It’s perfectly natural to be intimidated and even a little afraid of heights, and that’s what is unique about this — whether it’s the pros or the first-time people, they’re all sharing that experience,” Fischer says. “But we will help you along the way and find a wall that you can get to the top of. That’s what we’re all about.”
Hoosier Heights is located at 9850 Mayflower Park Drive in Carmel. For more info including pricing for classes, teams and camps, call 317-802-9302 or visit hoosierheights.com. Individual and family memberships are also available.