Posted by Danger on
Sep 3rd, 2016
In the last two years, shiny new sports centers have started popping up in New Taipei City, each with its own Entreprises-built climbing wall. The quality and design of these contract-built climbing facilities has varied greatly, but the Xizhi one, with its angular, orange, white, and gray panels, and Mallorca-esque arch shape has been tantalizingly promising.
Situated on the second floor of a swimming pool, the climbing gym itself occupies the entire level and is surprisingly spacious
It’s not the biggest climbing wall in town – STONE wins that race by a mile, but it uses its 218 square meters of climbing space well. Every facet of the main boulder has climbable area for a surprising amount of climbing packed into a moderately sized structure. The island style boulder design also creates a totally different experience from typical climbing gyms where the walls surround the climbers. Here the climbing area is center stage, surrounded by plenty of space for climbers to rest and spectate.
Downward dog your heart out
Amenities here are as good as you’ll find in Taipei – no foot baths, but you have a yoga and stretching area with foam rollers, simple but ample spectator seating, tables to eat or relax at, and a TV to watch climbing videos on. A slackline, and fingerboard are supposed to be in the works as well.
The bathrooms are Taipei sports center quality – clean, with water dispensers and showers. Whereas Red Rock has one stingily-used wall mounted AC cooling the entire gym, Xizhi has the real thing – five commercial grade units blasting arctic temperatures at full strength. This may be the most comfortable climbing gym in Taipei.
The climbing itself is a mix of incredible terrain held back by mediocre routesetting. The wall itself is world-class. The arch is a multifaceted, geometric wonder with every angle and shape you could think of. From vertical, slab, and slightly overhung to roof, to multi-angled terrain. Climbing this thing is akin to climbing something outside, dihedrals, aretes and all.
However, uninspired holds and routesetting detract from the experience. The holds on the wall are sourced completely from the wall manufacturer – EP. While you’ll find every type of hold on the wall – from crimps to slopers to jugs or pinches, what you won’t find is much variety – many holds are repeated, and all the holds feature the same coarse texture and matte color scheme common to EP holds.
The routes are ostensibly color-coded, but routefinding is still frustratingly difficult on many walls because holds of the same color are used closely together on different routes. I talked to the setter and he said they will use tape to help delineate routes, but for the time being it’s difficult at best and impossible many times to isolate a single route on a wall.
The quality of the setting itself is not stellar, but not that bad. However route difficulty is bipolar – either quite easy or very hard, with little middle ground. Along with the colored hold issue, this makes climbing the set routes an exercise in mild frustration.
Despite all this the gym is somehow still quite fun to climb at. There are enough holds on the wall to make up interesting routes on any part of the wall fairly easily. Ignore the colors, make up your own routes, play around on the mutli-faceted terrain, and you’ll have a good time.
For Location, Pricing and other Details visit our climbing gym entry for Xizhi Bouldering Gym