By Arthur Tam
Test your strength, grit and tenacity at Verm City – Hong Kong’s newest and largest indoor rock climbing and bouldering gym. Unlike working out at a regular gym, you can get an immediate sense of accomplishment with every route you climb at Verm City. Best of all, the climbing gym is close to Taikoo Place, making it easily accessible during lunchtime or after work for you, your friends and co-workers.
We went to check out the gym with our co-workers and this is what we found.
Clip ’N’ Climb Park
You don’t need any prior rock climbing experience to scramble about in this colourful, one-of-a-kind climbing theme park, which occupies its own area within the gym. We dropped by on a Wednesday evening at 7:30pm and were lucky enough to have the place to ourselves, so we got to try all 19 themed courses. We competed against each other on adjacent timed walls, scurried up the ice wall using picks and hopped across ascending pillars. For a few of us, the most exhilarating part of the park was the giant vertical slide. One by one, we clung onto a bar that lifted us high up on the slide. Then, by our own accord, we let go, dropped, and slid down with a mix of fear, excitement and joy.
Each session lasts for one hour, and all sessions start on the half hour mark every hour (11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm and so forth). You must arrive 15 minutes before the start of each session. Get a $180 pass for an hour to enjoy them all or 10 shareable passes for a discounted $1,620 usable within 3 months.
This area of Verm City is where you’ll find the more experienced climbers. Newcomers will have to pass a fall test (basically showing you can climb to two metres and jumping down on to the mat, then again at four metres) or show a Level 2 climbing certification. If you have neither, an introductory course is provided at $1,600 for four classes (one hour per class). Upon completion you’ll have access to the whole gym – bouldering walls, overhangs, top roping, lead climbing and a strength training area. If the price of the course is steep, drop by on Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 6:30pm and join a Fun Day Climbing class for $250. In one hour you can learn some intro skill and then take the fall test. After we passed our test, we decided to try out what’s on offer.
This climbing adventure turned video game will trigger your competitive spirit. There are five different ‘games’ projected on the wall, each with a different objective. We tried Astromania, which meant we had to use our hands and feet to destroy asteroids heading towards certain climbing holds. You will be so engrossed that you won’t even know that you’re working out, burning calories and building muscle in the process.
Climb and traverse this 4.5m-high wall without a harness. Practise your grip and increase those back, arm and leg muscles. There are routes with various levels of difficulty to accommodate your skill level. We could feel the workout in our forearms after a few tries.
Top Roping, Leading Wall
Here you can practise tying knots and climbing with a partner. Learn how to lead someone during a climb, which is the perfect practice for those gorgeous outdoor cliffs you’ve always dreamt of conquering. This will take a bit more practice to get the hang of and is worth taking a course to learn if you’re serious.
Verm City Climbing Club
4/F, Kodak House 1, 321 Java Road, Quarry Bay, tel: 2560 8128; vermcity.com. $180 a day and discounted packages available.
Opening hours: 11am to 11pm on weekdays, 9am to 9pm on weekends.
From Taikoo Place Cambridge House:
Walk a few minutes to the Finney Street tram and exit when you reach Healthy Street East. Get off and head toward Java Road and you will see Kodak House
Take a short walk from Quarry Bay MTR Exit C and you will reach Kodak House.
Gear: Wear comfortable workout clothes. Climbing shoes are available to rent but if you have them we recommend bringing your own.