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Fitness Clubs

The Rock Oasis

Posted by Staff / Posted on November 25, 2011

Rock Oasis TorontoThe Rock Oasis was always my favourite Toronto climbing gym, if mainly because of its bladder-bending 60-foot wall. Now, I've never been one for heights, but I've always figured that if I'm going to scale a wall with nothing but a rope suspending me from face-plant misery (or worse) I might as well go all out. That's why, more often than not, I would head to Rock Oasis on lower Bathurst since it provided an easily accessible, lofty (pun intended) thrill.

Rock OasisBut after 13 years at Bathurst and Front, Rock Oasis was forced to vacate its former digs to make way for new condos (obviously, Toronto is in dire need). Its new spot is at 388 Carlaw, though Rock Oasis general manager Cort McElroy is quick to point out that the space is just a temporary one. "We'll be here for about two years," he tells me when I ask just what "temporary" means. "We have the land for a new facility on Morse Street," he says, "and once it's finished we'll be back to 60-foot walls. We're hoping for sometime in 2013."

Rock Oasis TorontoIn the meantime, Rock Oasis is up and running at Carlaw and Gerrard, in a more spacious (but less vertical) renovated loft space. You'll have to do a little climbing and winding before you actually find the new facility. Unlike its previous location, where you'd open the doors and immediately encounter chalked-up climbers and bad 90's music, the street-level entrance doesn't take you directly to Rock Oasis. Rather, you have to climb a flight of stairs and follow a parade or "Rock Oasis -->" signs to actually get to the new spot.

Rock OasisThe major difference between this location and the old one is obvious--the peak height of its walls. Here the tallest wall caps off at around 36-feet, just over half the height of the Bathurst location. This is sad news for climbers such as myself, who seek a sense of achievement not by the difficulty of the climb (why tackle the futile?), but by the level of ascent. Or rather, the level of ascent reached before succumbing to a panic attack.

Rock OasisAll else, however, is pretty much the same. There are plenty of walls of varying difficulty (fit for beginners right up to experts), bouldering areas, a challenging 25-degree angle wall among others, lockers, change rooms (although they do seem sort of makeshift), and lessons and packages for kids and adults. And from what I can recall, the prices have seemed to stay the same with beginner introductory packages priced at $35, one-time visits at $15, and ten visits for $135.

I stopped by Rock Oasis in the middle of the week, and, understandably, it was pretty much dead. Though my devotion to Rock Oasis remains unwavering, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to those 60-foot walls. Two years, and counting.

Additional Photos:

Rock OasisRock OasisRock OasisRock Oasis20111124-rockoasis9.jpgRock OasisRock OasisRock OasisWriting by Robyn Urback. Photos by Vai Yu.



JFS_II / November 25, 2011 at 09:07 am
if only there were rock climbing walls in nature! I'm sure in the outdoors there would be few limits to how high one could make a "climbing wall"... I bet you could even go as high as 65 feet - maybe 66!
JFS_II replying to a comment from JFS_II / November 25, 2011 at 09:15 am
Good luck finding a rock face in the city that isn't concrete. Hell, even within an hours drive.
math / November 25, 2011 at 10:54 am
Plenty of natural rock walls in the city, but they're on buildings, and nominally illegal to climb upwards (certainly dangerous without protection), or sometimes even horizontally (liability for owners and the propensity of climbers to leave ugly(?) chalk marks on the walls). The local climbing community is well aware of probably every single rock-faced (or even interesting concrete) wall on every building or structure in the city.

"Buildering" wasnt invented just recently, certainly. Ask around.

Outside, height isnt very interesting beyond 100' unless you are targeting multipitch climbing. There is no real multipitch on the escarpment beyond some meandering routes (for rope drag reasons). Closest to Toronto is Bon Echo, many hrs drive east.
Jon Bachar / November 25, 2011 at 01:57 pm
They build really tall climbing walls in the states! You can go to Yosemite and they've got like 70' climbing walls there. I think you need a guide though.
Nathan Ng / November 25, 2011 at 04:02 pm
[self-serving, but related link follows]

Earlier this year, I interviewed The Rock Oasis' founder & president at length, as part of a larger essay about the history of the (since demolished) industrial structure at Front and Bathurst.

Climbers curious about the origins of the gym may find this piece of interest:
sleaterdenke / November 27, 2011 at 06:33 pm
is there really such a thing as bad 90s music?
Jennine Jurist / November 28, 2011 at 12:39 am
I would like to thanks for the time you have contributed in composing this blog. I am hoping the same top-grade blog post from you in the future as well.
thomas park / June 12, 2013 at 10:11 pm
had a very good time. staff was very helpful. there was an asian guy with dreadlocks and another instructor that was very very helpful. ( I dont remember his name but the other one was called Mat. they instructed us very well and taught us how to climb better. thanks alot guys keep up the good work.

This is one of the better gyms i have been to in Toronto. staff are always happy and are willing to help us beginners out.
gns3 / July 13, 2013 at 10:29 pm
Thank you for some other informative blog. The
place else may just I get that type of information written in such an ideal way?
I've a project that I am just now working on, and I have been at the glance out for such info.
Mesa / April 6, 2015 at 07:53 pm
I don't like this climbing gym - bad bouldering routes, dirty, rude staff

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