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Anya Clark inches her way upward on a series of handholds in a corner of the rock gym. Nestled among the various other gyms, aerobics rooms and game tables at the center, the climbing wall comprises a mixed bag of pros and cons for would-be climbers.

Anya Clark inches her way upward on a series of handholds in a corner of the rock gym. Nestled among the various other gyms, aerobics rooms and game tables at the center, the climbing wall comprises a mixed bag of pros and cons for would-be climbers. (Ben Murray / S&S)

Anya Clark inches her way upward on a series of handholds in a corner of the rock gym. Nestled among the various other gyms, aerobics rooms and game tables at the center, the climbing wall comprises a mixed bag of pros and cons for would-be climbers.

Anya Clark inches her way upward on a series of handholds in a corner of the rock gym. Nestled among the various other gyms, aerobics rooms and game tables at the center, the climbing wall comprises a mixed bag of pros and cons for would-be climbers. (Ben Murray / S&S)

Badminton and volleyball players practice in the Kelsey Kerridge Sports Center’s main gym.

Badminton and volleyball players practice in the Kelsey Kerridge Sports Center’s main gym. (Ben Murray / S&S)

Though part of the same facility, the Parkside Pool isn’t part of the sports center and requires its own separate ticket. The pool has 25-meter lap lanes, starting blocks and a diving area.

Though part of the same facility, the Parkside Pool isn’t part of the sports center and requires its own separate ticket. The pool has 25-meter lap lanes, starting blocks and a diving area. (Ben Murray / S&S)

CAMBRIDGE — It’s a cold feeling that starts in the chest and stomach, making your knees quiver and your breath start to come in short little wisps.

Your hands, already tired, burn with effort you know you can’t sustain, but there seems to be no way to move, no limb that wants to respond.

It’s the one-of-a-kind twinge of panic that comes when you’ve climbed higher than you should have without a rope, and suddenly there are no more handholds or footholds to be found — no way up, no way down.

It’s not a pleasant sensation, but it’s part of the excitement of going to a climbing wall, an indoor sport some may find themselves turning to as the cold, dark and rain of the English winter sets in next month.

For servicemembers near the Cambridge area, one easy option is the rock gym at the Kelsey Kerridge Sports Center, the multistory fitness facility in the center of the city.

Nestled among the various other gyms, aerobics rooms and game tables at the center, the climbing wall constitutes a mixed bag of pros and cons for would-be climbers.

For starters, the wall offers a better-than-average variety of difficulty levels, ranging from the sloping, simple beginner’s wall to the experts-only corner at the far end, with sharp inversions and thumb-sized hand grips.

On the simple side, climbers can try their skills out with the generous hand and footholds on the pitched portion of the wall, making use of a variety of deep, easily grabbed holes and grips.

From there, the routes get steadily harder as the wall wraps around, offering a challenging set of fissures, cracks, outcroppings and mixed holds to give climbers a workout.

The wall falls short, however, in a few key categories. The grips, for instance, are aligned mostly for vertical climbing, making bouldering slightly difficult, though the wall itself isn’t exceptionally high.

Also, markers for different routes, normally color-coded by difficulty, are so small they are essentially unusable — a detail that may put off more experienced climbers. And the Sports Center doesn’t have ropes or climbing shoes available for rent.

But accessibility and ease of use are obvious benefits of the Kelsey Kerridge facility. The facility is connected to the Queen Anne parking garage on Gonville Place.

If climbing until your forearms threaten to explode doesn’t finish you off for the day, the Kelsey Kerridge has other fitness options. Squash courts, weight rooms, pingpong tables, basketball courts and tanning beds, among other options, are available at the center. Each activity, however, comes with an individual charge ranging from 2 pounds to 5 pounds.

Those interested in adding a swim to the day also can visit the Parkside Pool, located in the same building but with its own admission charge. The Parkside is a 25-meter pool with a separate diving area that often is busy and frequently serves as the site of competitions. Both the sports center and the pool offer a wide variety of fitness and instructional courses, including aikido, tai chi, “Thighs, Tums and Bums” aerobics and swimming lessons.

Getting thereThe Kelsey Kerridge Sports Center is right in downtown Cambridge on Gonville Place, overlooking Parker’s Piece. From the A-14 follow signs for the city center, then for the Queen Anne parking facility, connected to the Sports Center.

Hours: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily (peak hours are 5 – 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and all day Sunday).

Climbing wall session: 4.10 pounds (peak), 3.30 pounds (off-peak).

Prices do not include a one-day fee for nonmembers: 1.30 pounds for adults, 1 pound for kids older than 5.

Parkside Pool

Hours: 7 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (closes earlier on Tuesdays and Thursdays), 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call for open swim times.

Admission: 3.50 pounds for adults, 1.75 pounds for those younger than 18.


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