Rock gym offers unique form of fitness in Grand Forks“It’s not going to go well” said Mike Tingum as he eyed a route to the top of the two-story-high climbing wall. His climbing partner Mark LaLonde watched as Tingum began the climb on one of the more difficult walls at the Northern Heights Rock Gym at the Grand Cities Mall in Grand Forks.
By: Heidi Bounphithack, Grand Forks Herald
“It’s not going to go well” said Mike Tingum as he eyed a route to the top of the two-story-high climbing wall.
His climbing partner Mark LaLonde watched as Tingum began the climb on one of the more difficult walls at the Northern Heights Rock Gym at the Grand Cities Mall in Grand Forks.
Unlike the other walls, this one has a broad horizontal overhang that would force Tingum to climb entirely by hand for part of the way.
It was a scorching summer day last week when the pair enjoyed their exercise in the mall’s air-conditioned interior.
LaLonde said they recently became gym members because they were bored and wanted to try something different.
The gym, which opened in November 2002, is a series of multi-colored walls, contrasted by oddly-shaped hand and foot holds. Users include members and non-members who pay per session. And they come in all ages.
“We have kids come in and climb at 3 years old,” said Dan Norgard, who has been a co-owner of the gym since 2005.
Climbing offers a work-out that “involves full body integration” because the whole body is engaged, he said.
And there’s the immediate gratification of scaling a two-story-high wall.
“There’s reward rather than repetition,” said Josh Braband, president of the UND climbing club, contrasting it to other forms of exercise.
The gym also provides safety equipment for rent and safety training.
For his safety, Tingum wore a harness attached to a rope that’s looped around a pulley in the ceiling and connected to a harness worn by his partner.
LaLonde’s role as belayer is to control the tension on the rope so, should the climber slip, he wouldn’t fall very far.
As Tingum climbed higher and higher, his foot sometimes rising nearly to his waist as he struggled to reach a foot hold, LaLonde reeled in more rope. Tingum slipped for a moment, tried to reach the hold again, but it wasn’t enough to secure his foot. After a few more attempts, he asked LaLonde to bring him down with the rope.
Tingum said walls like the one he tried are especially difficult because they have few hand holds. “There’s nowhere to go with your hands.”
Walls for beginners have bigger hand holds that are closer together.
Braband encouraged new climbers to talk with others about their experiences.
“Ask somebody if you’re stuck on a route,” he said, chances are they might know something you haven’t tried.
With soreness from the climb already setting in, Tingum and LaLonde traded-off and Tingum prepared to belay. They’ll spend up to three hours at the gym, alternating tasks after a few climbs.
“It’s a really good workout,” said LaLonde.
And it will remain that way, even as the two become more experienced.
Wall routes are changed periodically, limiting the amount of time Tingum and other climbers have to learn the best way to the top.
For more info: www.ClimbND.com or call the Northern Heights Rock Gym at (701) 795-5085.