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Take your present prowess to new heights with the gift of climbing 

The Pad Climbing comes from humble beginnings.

In 2003, Yishai Horowitz and some fellow climbers converted a 400-square-foot self-storage unit in San Luis Obispo into a mini rock-climbing gym. Horowitz said they were simply looking for a place to climb when it was dark or raining outside.

"It lasted for a couple of years and then the [storage facility] management changed and kicked us out," Horowitz said.

click to enlarge EXPANDING The owners of The Pad Climbing run a 14,000-square-foot gym in San Luis Obispo, a roughly 10,000-square-foot gym in Santa Maria, and recently purchased a facility in Las Vegas. - FILE PHOTO BY SEAN MCNULTY
  • File Photo By Sean Mcnulty
  • EXPANDING The owners of The Pad Climbing run a 14,000-square-foot gym in San Luis Obispo, a roughly 10,000-square-foot gym in Santa Maria, and recently purchased a facility in Las Vegas.

After a few years and various locations, Horowitz and his wife, Kristin, now run a 14,000-square-foot gym in SLO, a roughly 10,000-square-foot gym in Santa Maria, and recently purchased a facility in Las Vegas.

If you're still scrambling for gift ideas, a trip to one of these facilities is an affordable and mildly adventurous option—although the airfare to Las Vegas might be costly. A day pass to the gym in SLO costs $20, while the gym in Santa Maria costs $15. And if you're feeling like a really generous gift giver, both gyms offer monthly and annual memberships.

At the Santa Maria gym, there's one type of climbing available called bouldering—when a climber scales a short distance without a rope until he or she gets to the top of the 14- to 18-foot wall. The floor below the climbing area is padded to cushion any falls.

At the gym in SLO, in addition to bouldering, climbers can try out top rope or lead climbing—although the latter is more advanced. While top rope climbing, a person securely fastens a rope that's attached to an anchor at the top of the gym's 35-foot wall to his or her harness. That person's climbing partner then attaches the rope to his or her harness and holds the rope to ensure the climber doesn't fall to the ground. This process is called belaying.

If this also sounds intimidating, don't worry. Horowitz said gym staff members are always available to show first-time climbers the ropes, literally and figuratively.

People interested in bouldering can grab a pair of climbing shoes—which are free with a day pass—and get to work. But before top roping in SLO, climbers have to take a belay test to show they can safely perform the process. Or climbers can use the auto-belay, which is a machine with a rope that attaches to a climber's harness and allows the person to safely climb without a partner.

Whether the person you're buying a gift for has never climbed before or is a seasoned climber, there are options for everybody. Climbers can follow prescribed routes on the wall that range in varying degrees of difficulty. Or climbers can simply grab holds and start moving, Horowitz said.

"Obviously climbing is not for everybody, but I think being able to push yourself in any sport is really a unique thing," Horowitz said. "And with climbing in particular, if people don't play baseball, soccer, football, or whatever team sports, [climbing's] a different outlet." ∆

Sun Staff Writer Zac Ezzone wants a climbing membership for Christmas. Send tips on wrapping intangible objects to zezzone@santamariasun.com.

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