Lucky for beginners, Central oregon is home to one of the largest climbing facilities in the Northwest; Bend Rock Gym is 20,000 sq. ft. of fun.
Their auto-belay systems make Bend Rock Gym the ideal place for first-timers. I really liked using them because it gave me a chance to go at my own pace. Since I didn't have anyone waiting for me to reach the top, I could take my time and just enjoy the experience.
Nobody I went climbing with fancied themselves a daredevil or a huge fan of heights, but we all loved it. It didn't take long before our competitive nature kicked in and we were each trying to conquer a tougher route.
There's a couple of different options for beginners who want to learn the ropes, so to speak. Bend Rock Gym has classes ranging from "Gym Intro", a 45-minute class that gets people past that awkward "I have no clue what I'm doing" phase, to "Outdoor Climbing 101" which preps indoor climbers to head outdoors. All the classes seem to come with some kind of perk, like with the "Gym Intro" class you get a one-week membership and rentals for only $45.
We didn't know about the classes before we went, so we just paid for a day pass [$16] and rented gear [$8]. We were kinda just there to mess around anyway, so the relaxed atmosphere of not taking a class was right for us; and even if you don't take a class, they still give you a little demo on how the gear works and what to do and not to do.
BEFORE YOU GO:
Sign the waiver online, it only takes a couple of minutes.
You don't have to wear socks, but when the girl checking out the rental shoes says she wouldn't wear them sans-socks…you probably shouldn't either.
Wear tight workout clothing [girls and guys], any loose clothing will give everyone down below a show they may not have bought tickets for.
Leave your jewelry at home. They recommend taking all your jewelry off before you climb and there are limited cubby spaces to stash your stuff.