Shanghai is home to one of China’s biggest indoor climbing walls, but it’s far from the only option in town. Time Out checks out four walls to scale for all abilities
Perched on the second level of Hongkou Football Stadium’s Gate 21, Hengyi is not easy to find (follow posters to the spit ’n’ sawdust boxing gym next door), but at 1,500sqm, this is the second largest indoor wall in the city and is worth seeking out.
By day, the atmosphere is relaxed with instructors mooching around occasionally strumming on a guitar. At night, the space is teeming with teens. The facilities are not cutting-edge but they are safe and do the job. Branded climbing shoes, harnesses and pads are provided.
There is a modest weights gym in the attic, a slack wire to practice balance and a small mezzanine where you can study fellow climbers’ techniques. Despite the graffiti art and slacker feel the instructors are experienced professionals, some of whom have worked at the centre since it opened 13 years ago. Private tuition is available in English with trainer Yak. It’s also open 365 days a year.
Ten minutes’ walk away from Hongkou Stadium in a converted factory, Rockdancing echoes Hengyi’s young urban feel. The Skittles paint job and linear walls, however, feel notably more child-friendly (though both take kids from age ten).
While you won’t run out of routes, the 1-D format doesn’t allow for many lateral possibilities. The simpler climbs make it an accessible wall, though some may wish for a greater challenge. Pleasingly, it’s also open air.
Rockdancing offers free technical tuition sessions with fully trained instructors. At time of writing, classes run from 7-8.30pm every Monday, though these can change, so check the website for regular updates.
Cost: 45RMB/Mon-Fri, 55RMB/Sat-Sun.
With eight main walls stretching up to heights of 20 metres, the climbing centre at Shanghai Stadium is one of the best in the country. With two relatively easy walls followed by a succession of trickier climbs, a large bouldering (rope-free) area with plenty of routes and a series of challenging overhangs, there’s plenty here to occupy seasoned climbers.
Novices on the other hand, will find little in the way of tips and advice from the staff, though they will help with basics such as your equipment and belaying (feeding and taking the slack from the rope as you climb). The rental equipment is in good condition and it’s good value too.
Cost: 40RMB 10am-5pm Mon-Fri; 50RMB 5-10pm Mon-Fri, 10am-10pm weekends.
Despite being some way from any occupied residential areas (though plenty are under construction nearby), Xuhui Riverside Public Space has become an increasingly popular destination for large numbers of people at weekends. With a (slightly cracked already) skating bowl, a pleasant raised walkway running between two towering decommissioned cranes and open riverside paths, it’s easy to see why – there is plenty to do here.
Lying underneath a section of the raised walkway, the small climbing wall comes without ropes or trainers and won’t offer much of a challenge to experienced climbers, but it’s a fun place for beginners. There are several straightforward routes to the top, though a series of tricky overhangs means that some routes are not quite as simple as they may first appear and numerous climbers are sent back to the crash mats below with a bump.
On Sunday afternoons, the crash mats are also the domain of a local parkour group, meaning you can recline on the grass after your climb and watch young Chinese kids pulling flips and somersaults.