Go boulder go home: Markham’s new climbing gym lets you scale a dragon

For some, summertime fitness means amping up the standard routine in order to fit into a new swimsuit. For others, it means a chance to go out and try new things and make fitness into an adventure. For those who want the best of both worlds, climbing is a fun and accessible sport that is slowly becoming more mainstream.

The GTA’s newest climbing centre, Hub Climbing in Markham, is more than just a climbing gym, it’s a climber’s playground — literally (where else can you descend from a boulder through a tube slide?). For residents of York Region, it’s certainly a welcome new addition (there’s only one other climbing gym in the area, located further north in Newmarket). For Torontonians, it’s well worth the drive out to the Buttonville area, since no Toronto gym has what the Hub offers.

While most gyms in the GTA have one or two small bouldering sections in the middle of dozens of top-rope routes, the Hub boasts 18,000 square feet of climbing and fitness space, with more than 200 boulder problems ranging from easy-peasy, hand-over-hand V0 problems to exhausting and complex V11 problems. There are also a few top-roping routes in the gym, but make no mistake: this place is all about the bouldering. (Lost already? For an explanation on what top-roping and bouldering are, check out this post from December on climbing in Toronto).

Once you get beyond the various slabs and arches, there’s the centre piece of it all: the dragon. The dragon is a 23-foot high boulder shaped like a dragon. Yes, 23-feet of untethered climbing. If you are skilled enough to make it to the dragon’s head (and it’s not even that tricky — one problem that ascends the beast is a mere V2) you get to down-climb the route but worry not there's nearly six feet of soft foam pit at its base just in case.

As its name indicates, Hub Climbing is all about becoming a huge social space. Climbing is already known for being a very friendly and inviting sport (beginners, fear not — there’s always someone hanging around willing to help you out and encourage you), and the Hub capitalizes on that. Beyond the very open-concept layout of the gym area, there’s also plenty of space to sit, chill, eat and drink while you recharge between problems.

Hub Climbing is still in its soft-opening phase, aiming for an early August grand opening. They also plan to add yoga and fitness classes in the near future.

Hub Climbing, 165 McIntosh Dr., 905-604-4588

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