We scored the cover story on the LA Downtown News issue in February! They came by to interview manager Remi Moehring, along with members and guests who described it as an 'adult playground'.
By: Donna Evans
Harmony Smith loves a good problem. Standing atop a 14-inch thick crash pad, the 27-year-old scanned a chalk-dusted wall flecked with orange, blue and yellow tape aligned with myriad hand and footholds. She zeroed in on her path and stepped off the ground, beginning a stretching, grinding trek that had her scrabbling sideways and climbing vertically. Her goal was a green handle 12 feet above the floor.
About five minutes later, she reached the cherished handle. Victorious, the Starbucks barista and actress beamed at her accomplishment, dropped to the mat with a gymnast’s grace and walked away, searching for the next challenge.
Smith was in LA Boulders, or LA.B (pronounced lab), a 13,000-square-foot facility that opened last month in the Arts District, sandwiched between the Los Angeles Gun Club and the Factory Place Lofts.
It is most easily described as an indoor rock climbing facility, though practitioners prefer the term “bouldering.” The attraction’s manager, Remi Moehring, had a different description. “It’s an adult playground,” she said on a recent Tuesday afternoon.
LA.B is the ninth California gym for Touchstone Climbing, an indoor rock climbing company started in San Francisco in 1995 by Mark and Debra Melvin. When they decided to look for a location in Los Angeles, they set their minds on an up-and-coming, industrial neighborhood. They settled on the mammoth structure just east of Factory Place, said Touchstone Climbing’s Director of Operations Markham Connolly. The neighborhood “has a great community of fun people, interesting businesses and good restaurants,” he said. He also pointed to the site’s proximity to three freeways.
Although most people have never heard of bouldering, and particularly the indoor version, Moehring said it has been gaining momentum over the past decade. Unlike traditional rock climbing, no ropes or harnesses are involved. Instead, it’s just the climber, usually wearing special shoes that allow for a firm grip on the wall....
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