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.gravityvault.com.