About Portland Rock Gym
Founded by owner Gary Rall in 1988, the Portland Rock Gym is one of the first modular indoor rock climbing gyms in the world. With its mixture of rope climbing and bouldering, top-rope routes, and towering, overhanging lead walls, PRG offers a realistic climbing experience for beginning and experienced climbers alike. At 15,000 sq. ft. we are the largest rock gym in Oregon.
Take a trip back in time and learn all about how Portland Rock Gym has evolved throughout its 26 years in business.
In February of 1988, the Portland Rock Gym opened its doors to the public. It was originally located next to a gymnastics center, ballet studio and shared space with an indoor ski ramp. Despite these inauspicious beginnings, the gym gained quick popularity in Portland’s climbing community. Among its original unique features were the hexagonal Metolius tiles, which can still found at the PRG today. Occupying an area of 12’ wide by 40’ tall, these climbing tiles with their small edges, crimpy knobs and hidden feet, offer one of the most sustained climbing workouts available in a gym.
In July of 1989, the gym moved to Southeast Sixth Avenue in Portland, taking with it the gym name and its first employee, “Portland Bouldering Guide” author, Greg Lyon and the Metolius tiles. Like its predecessor, this gym was set up for bouldering and top-rope climbing, but it continued to evolve over the next four years.
In 1991, the gym added a new bouldering area. This world-class structure, with its many roofs and interesting angles, provided the base for excellent problems. Two years later the PRG underwent its first major transformation when it raised the roof to 35 feet to make room for the lead climbing wall. With an overhang of 16 feet, the lead wall offered over 40 feet of climbing. At any given time you could find up to fifteen taped lead routes on the face and sides of this structure.
In 1996, a second gym called the Power Plant was opened in northwest Portland devoted exclusively to bouldering. With 3000 square feet of climbing walls the Power Plant offered some of the best indoor bouldering in the country. The Power Plant, unfortunately, was ahead of its time and Portland wasn’t ready for a bouldering only gym. Its best features made their way back into PRG when it underwent its next transformation in 1997 at the SE 6th Ave location. The popular 45-degree wall and others were built on the large panels from the Power Plant.
In 2003, a new building was built specifically for the PRG. It covers a quarter of a block of land in the heart of the city’s eastside at 12th avenue and east Burnside. Half of the building hosts 40 ft. high roped walls and the other half has bouldering, locker rooms, weight room and a retail area.
In 2012, the addition of 2,500 sq ft. of climbing terrain was made possible by Bend based climbing wall manufacturers, Entre Prises. This new wall provided the gym with 11 new anchors that can support at least 22 additional routes, both top-rope and lead. The walls were also retextured and repainted with a splash of color to match the new Entre Prises wall. The addition of 5 new True Blue auto-belay devices gives climbers the ability to climb our 40 ft walls without needing a partner!
The Portland Rock Gym continues to offer a world-class indoor climbing experience for beginning and experienced climbers alike. At any given time, you’ll find 150–180 boulder problems throughout the gym. There are approximately 60 lead and 60 top-rope lines allowing up to 120 routes at a given time.
Routes at PRG run the full gamut of grades, but cater to our regular customers’ needs and wants. Currently, you’ll find most boulder problems in the V0-V6 range, and the majority of top-rope routes falling between 5.8 and 5.11-. Lead routes tend to average slightly higher. The variety of course setters and 2 to 3 month route rotation guarantee a positive experience no matter what your training goals. In addition, you’ll find a weight room, cardio machines, yoga classes, various finger and system boards to round out your workout.