As I walked down the steps and into the Whitewater Center, I wasn’t too nervous about climbing. From far away, the Deep Water Solo looked big, but not big enough to make me turn the other way.
Until I got up close. This climbing wall is no joke.
So, what exactly is this Deep Water Solo?
It’s a set of climbing walls that reach heights of 25 to 40 feet, all overhanging a 20-foot-deep pool to catch you when you fall.
There are no ropes, no harnesses, no helmets. Just you, the wall, and the pool. And four lifeguards making sure everyone’s safe.
If I’m a beginner, should I even attempt this thing?
Absolutely. The Deep Water Solo is meant for all levels; you don’t have to be a seasoned climber. There are 8 to 9 different climbing routes that vary from easy to hard.
The routes change on a monthly basis. Ya know, in case you were just getting comfortable.
Here’s what to expect when you climb for the first time.
First, you’ll be educated on all things Deep Water Solo. Climbers attend a short intro session from one of the lifeguards. They’ll give you the rundown on how to say climbing commands, how to tell the difficulty level of each route, and which safety precautions to take. For example, when you fall, you should land in the water like a pencil- hands straight up, legs together, toes pointed.
Once you rinse off under the outdoor shower, you’re ready to go.
At this point I’m a little nervous, but there’s no turning back. I took it slow and started on the easiest route. It was definitely a weird sensation, not having the security of a harness. But after I fell once and the more I climbed, the more comfortable I got.
I tried multiple routes. All were challenging, but doable.
Here are my tips:
- Wear water-friendly clothing. Not necessarily a bathing suit, but you will be going completely underwater, so keep that in mind.
- You must wear close-toed shoes. I wore my sneakers but you can also rent less bulky, more rubbery shoes to climb in.
- Don’t wear loose items. I repeat: Don’t wear loose items. No loose jewelry, no GoPros, no hats. The lifeguards warned me I would lose mine.
- If you don’t want to wait in line, go on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. It’s not as crowded. I went mid-morning and there were no lines.
Other questions you may have:
- How much does it cost? You have to buy a day pass ($60) in order to climb the Deep Water Solo.
- How many times can I climb? As many times as you want, since you have the day pass. Climb to your heart’s desire.
- Will I feel judged? No. There’s no one silently judging you from outside of the gate. And when I climbed, I was surrounded by little kids. But I guess depending on how you look at it, that could get intimidating.
- When is it open? Usually whenever the park is open, around 9 or 10. Sometimes it’s closed for maintenance though, so call just to be sure.