“Climbing is not a battle with the elements, nor against the law of gravity. It’s a battle against oneself.”, this is how legendary Italian climber Walter Bonatti saw the world, and still today he would probably strike a chord with many who practice the sport. Sport climbing and especially bouldering are not a new thing, but they have without a doubt become one of the most popular sports of our days. To solve tricky “bouldering problems” with creative thinking and to keep your body fit and healthy by exercising on a vertical wall are just two reasons why this is one of the trendiest activities there is right now. No surprise then, that bouldering gyms and climbing gyms shoot up like mushrooms everywhere in Berlin. Whether you’re a newby balancing on seemingly tiny hand holds for the first time, or you’re running up them walls like it’s the most natural thing in the world – here’s all you need to know about climbing and bouldering gyms in Berlin:
What is “bouldering”?
Since the 1960s, bouldering has evolved into its own discipline within sport climbing. Instead of ascending bigger walls with the aid and protection of harness, rope, and hooks, with bouldering the focus lies more on short, tricky routes called “bouldering problems” which are never too high above the ground. Thus, no matter whether it’s an accidental fall or whether you choose to jump off the wall, you will always land safely on a soft mat or crash pad. Originally performed on natural rock formations in nature, these days bouldering gyms are the more popular option: Artificial holds and steps are screwed onto walls in a way that they form exciting routes and problems of varied difficulty over a floor of pads. You can attempt to “solve” these problems without aid – there’s no need to belay.
What makes it interesting, is that by no means it’s just about strength – good technique, creative thinking, great body tension, and willpower make a successful climber. In many ways, this makes bouldering the ideal leisure activity: work out and shape your body, improve your sense of balance and coordination, as well as your mental health; and, most importantly, you can have so damn much fun!
Prior knowledge or special training are not necessarily required for beginners, and there’s very little equipment: comfortable clothes are an advantage, and tight climbing shoes can usually be hired cheaply on site. More advanced climbers often use a chalk bag for more grip on sweaty hands. Both with friends or on your own, bouldering is for (almost) everyone and brings a huge fun factor. Want to try it out? Here are some of the best locations in Berlin:
An unspectacular backyard in Kreuzberg bears a spectacular secret: Boulderklub offers prime bouldering problems on more than 1,300 sqm. The usual crowd is as hip and international as the surrounding borough, and they often play good electronic music all day. There’s something for every level, from absolute beginners to advanced professional climbers. The friendly staff makes sure to create new routes on a regular basis. Children can play, climb, and rollick around the big wooden play boat. Whatever you may need for a perfect bouldering afternoon, you can find it here: a weights room with gym machines, spacious locker rooms and showers, as well as a bar with good coffee and tasty snacks.
| Boulderklub. Ohlauer Str. 38 in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Sat – Mon: 10-22h; Tue – Fri: 8-22h. Admission: 6-9€. |
© Der Kegel
Climbing didn’t become cool overnight, and there’s one place that basically brought climbing to the hipster worlds of east Berlin: Der Kegel is an old concrete factory tower-turned-climbing gym on RAW Area () in Friedrichshain. You can go bouldering both indoors and outdoors here and the bouldering elite is often watching. To them, Der Kegel is still somewhat of a club house, which is why there are regular competitions and climbing events held here. The heart of the facility is the 20 meters high climbing tower featuring multiple routes to the top. Once you’ve made the ascend you’ll find an actual summit register up there, as well as one of the finest views of East Berlin. A true classic!
| Der Kegel. RAW-Gelände, Revaler Str. 99 in Berlin-Friedrichshain. Sat – Mon: 10-23h; Tue – Fri: 8-23h. Admission: 4-7€. |
Bouldering is a very trendy thing to do, especially if you’re a young, urban professional or stylish hipster. So… yeah, of course, Neukölln, the trendiest of all boroughs, has one of the dopest climbing gyms in town. Bouldergarten is a true paradise for indoor bouldering: Problems of all difficulties, multiple levels, stylish atmosphere. Another thing that makes this place special are the many “surprise routes”, which do not reveal their difficulty until you actually try them out; thus helping you to overcome the irrational fear of problems that are seemingly too difficult for you. There’s a huge playground and climbing area for kids, too, not to mention the slackline, weights room, gym machines, Thai massage service, and, of course, the sauna. There’s even a top-rope area for sport climbing here. All under the same roof, all awesome.
| Bouldergarten. Thiemannstr. 1 in Berlin-Neukölln. Mon – Fri: 10 – 23h; Sat – Sun: 10 – 22h. Admission: 6-10€. |
Go north from the city centre and as soon as you make it to Pankow borough you’ll find Berlin’s biggest bouldering gym. Berta Block consists of not one, not two, no, staggering three grand indoor halls with countless bouldering problems on walls and free-standing climbing mushrooms. There are routes for all levels, including some extremely long overhanging walls in the last hall, the likes of which are found only quite rarely anywhere in the world. Children are only allowed in the very spacious first hall, which makes the experience safer for everyone. If you need a little refreshment between solving two problems, there are fantastic cakes and homemade quiche. And even on a busy night, there is so much space here, that it never feels crowded. That alone is a good enough reason to take the subway to the suburbs.
| Berta Block. Mühlenstr. 62 in Berlin-Pankow. Mon – Fri: 11 – 23h (Tue & Fri starting at 8am already); Sat – Sun: 10 – 23h. Admission: 6-10€. |
These are, of course, only a few of the many climbing gyms in Berlin – in total there’s more than a dozen of them. If what you’re looking for is a giant climbing gym with both indoor and outdoor area as well as numerous top-rope walls, you might want to check out Magic Mountain in Wedding. In Schöneberg, there’s a rather unusual bouldering gym: Bright Site Boulder Project has you climb behind walls of glass, giving you a feeling of outdoor climbing even on bad weather days. And Ostbloc is definitely worth checking out, too, as it overlooks beautiful Rummelsburg Bay in the far east of town.
By the way: Bouldering also makes for a great group activity. If you register in advance many climbing gyms even provide you with a climbing tutor for your group, so that you can spend some exciting hours solving bouldering problems all together.
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is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.