Indoor climbing advocates say there is reason to climb indoors year-round. Climbing in a downtown gym takes a much shorter time commitment than scaling a cliff outside. It requires less gear, and should something go wrong, help is close by.
Gym owners say about a third of their clientele never climbs outside, viewing indoor climbing as a preferred alternative to aerobics classes or other more conventional ways of working out.
Many gyms also are adding bonus features such as free weights, yoga classes and cardio equipment to further entice members away from more traditional health clubs.
"For new climbers, it is a great place to develop new skills and confidence in a safe environment," O'Connor said. "After that, the most important thing about indoor climbing is convenience.
"Climbing inside gives you the flexibility to continue the sport no matter what it is doing outside, whether it's too cold, too wet or too hot."