Grav­ity vault

Reach­ing for the heights


When Grav­ity Vault opened in Up­per Sad­dle River seven years ago it was the first of its kind in Ber­gen County: a state of the art, com­mer­cial climb­ing gym open to novices and ex­pe­ri­enced climbers alike. Own­ers Tim Walsh and Lu­cas Kovalcik, both avid climbers, had grown up in the area, Tim in River Edge and Lu­cas in Rochelle Park.

Two years ago they opened an­other Grav­ity Vault in Chatham. Both places en­com­pass more than 13,000 square feet of rock climb­ing on 35-foot-plus high walls. They es­ti­mate that about 70 per­cent of their clients come in new to the sport.


“We find that par­ents will come in with their kids think­ing they are just there to watch, but then dis­cover they can ac­tu­ally learn how to run the ropes, or be­lay, for their chil­dren,” says Lu­cas. “So a fam­ily can climb to­gether with par­ents be­lay­ing each other and their chil­dren, get in some phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, have fun and qual­ity fam­ily time to­gether.”


For the more se­ri­ous climbers who want to take their ex­pe­ri­ence up a notch, there are com­pet­i­tive climb­ing teams at Grav­ity Vault for ages 7 to 18. Head coach Ferdie Araga says that many of the younger kids who try out for one of their three teams have come to climb­ing first for a birth­day party or with a friend. “Typ­i­cally they will take a class to learn the ba­sics, and then if they are com­mit­ted to train­ing and want to ex­cel at it, they come in for a no-cost try­out. “Although they prac­tice as a team, climbers com­pete in­di­vid­u­ally against other teams from climb­ing gyms in the area. In the fall, they com­pete in boul­der­ing, where climbers with­out ropes go up about 15 feet on boul­ders (with crash pads around them). Spring is rope sea­son where they wear har­nesses and climb 35- to 40foot walls, choos­ing dif­fer­ent routes ac­cord­ing to the route’s dif­fi­culty.

Noon to 10 p.m. week­days; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Satur­day; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sun­day. Mem­ber­ship, party rental, day passes and in­for­ma­tion on sum­mer camps is avail­able on­line at www.grav­i­ty­

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