Philly’s getting a big new ‘boulder lounge’ for people who want to take rock climbing to the next level

Tufas Boulder Lounge will soft launch in Kensington this June.

The Tufas team had a table at the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby

The Tufas team had a table at the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby

Facebook / Tufas Boulder Lounge
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If you’re into rock climbing gyms, get ready to take rappelling to the next level: Philly is getting a “bouldering lounge.”

Tufas Boulder Lounge, created by three local climbing buddies, will soft-open in June in a former warehouse in Kensington.

This isn’t the region’s first spot to offer the activity, which is the latest fitness craze to grip the country. There’s already Go Vertical along the Delaware River and five different outposts of Philadelphia Rock Gym.

But the founders of Tufas — Reiver Ketcham, Andrew Deming and Rory Coughlin — have each been climbing here for over a decade. This sets them apart from other operators, their marketing materials say, because they have first-hand knowledge and experience of what Philly climbers want and need.

So what is it that Philly climbers want? The 12,700-square-foot space at 1614 N. 5th St. (just south of Cecil B. Moore, near St. Benjamin Brewing) will include:

  • 5,500 square feet of climbing terrain
  • Bouldering “problems” for climbers of all levels
  • 1,500 square feet of training tools and fitness equipment
  • A 30-degree amphitheater wall for experienced aficionados
Tufas Boulder Lounge rendering
Facebook / Tufas Boulder Lounge

The training and fitness section of the gym will have an adjustable killer board, an adjustable tension board, a double-sided campus board, a Poutre board, cardio machines, suspension training, a lifting rack, free weights and a cable machine.

Bouldering is a type of climbing that uniquely challenges the mind and body: there are no ropes, no harnesses and no hardware aiding you on your ascent. But Tufas — the word describes these rare, limestone-based geological formations — will also have a lounge space dedicated solely to chilling. There will be comfortable seating, reading materials and WiFi.

The founders say they seeks to provide an inclusive space that fosters community “through climbing, fitness and collaboration.” And there’s a relatively sizable group to collaborate with. If we’re going with Meetup numbers, well over 3,000 people in Philly consider themselves enthusiasts of the sport.

Others have taken notice — at least three other new climing gyms will grace the region in 2018. These include Grid City Climbing in Fishtown, The Cliffs in Callowhill and Reach Climbing + Fitness in Bridgeport. The trend is national: per the Climbing Business Journal (yes, that exists), the U.S. saw 10 percent growth in climbing gyms last year.

Like most modern, cutting-edge gyms, reaping the benefits at Tufas will require a membership.

An opening promotion called The Founders Membership Package, which can be purchased online, costs $65 and includes entrance to the soft opening, discounted membership for the next two years, the initiation fee, a sticker and a t-shirt.

If you want to be one of the first to check it all out, the Meet the Setters Party (the aforementioned soft opening that is included in the membership package), is taking place in the facility on Jun. 6 at 6 p.m. If you choose to opt out of the membership package, tickets are $30 at the door and cover food, drinks and a raffle ticket.