How to Rock Climb in Culver City: A Guide to the New Cliffs of Id Ropes Section

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If you’re one of the very few people who don’t obsessively refresh the Cliffs of Id Instagram, you might have missed the most exciting development in L.A.’s climbing history: the grand opening of our state-of-the-art rope walls! Coinciding with our Touchstone Climbing Series competition finale, our ropes section opening hosted hundreds of psyched climbers finally able to experience this once-secret space.

It was a long road bringing Cliffs’ rope section from 3D video tour to real life. Along the way we saw our gym split in half by a Trumpian plywood divider, our parking lot commandeered by construction materials, and a crew of burly Bulgarians (thanks Walltopia!) lugging steel beams around as they toiled away behind the secrecy of a huge plastic sheet.

Now that the When are the ropes gonna open?” mystery has been solved, we thought we’d nip all your other questions in the bud with this handy guide.


I’ve been bouldering at Cliffs since you opened and want to try out ropes! But I’ve never belayed before…

No problem! If you’re a member at any Touchstone gym, you can take our Intro to Climbing Class free of charge. Just like Intro to Bouldering, we’ll take you step by step through everything you need to know. If you’re not a member, it’s only $30 to get hands-on instruction so you can pass our top rope belay check like a seasoned pro.

I have a belay card from another reputable gym in the Los Angeles area! I’m good to go, right?

Au contraire, hyperstoked sport climber! You need a blue or purple Touchstone belay card to hop on our rope walls, so pay us a visit at the front desk, take a quick test, and we’ll fork over a piping-hot blue belay card, fresh from the laminator. If, however, you’ve already got a belay card from one of our NorCal gyms, you’re all set!

Wait, what’s this about a purple card?

If you spot someone with a coveted purple card in our ropes area, stand back: you’re basking in the presence of a lead climber. Lead climbing requires an expertise beyond top rope climbing, and you must have a purple belay card before you can start clipping our shiny new draws!

Already part of the pantheon of rock wrestlers who’re right at home on the business end? Grab your blue card, a partner (also with a blue belay card), and a rope (minimum 30 meters or so) and come on in for a lead test. We can only give lead tests when we have the staff and time available, but we’ll always do our best to get you climbing ASAP.

What if I’ve never lead before?

In addition to our brand spankin’ new Intro the Climbing Classes, we have Lead Climbing Clinics so you can learn solid technique from the start and avoid settling into bad habits.

Alright, I’m sold. How much more do I have to pay to get on the ropes?

Already got a harness? Then you don’t have to cough up an extra cent. Forgot yours at home? We rent them out for a measly $2. Never had one to begin with? Check out our Pro Shop for some affordable Black Diamond options (and more exciting gear to come)!


Where are the autobelays?

Why use an autobelay when you can meet a new friend through the wonderful reciprocity of trading belays? We think our community is one of the best parts of being a Touchstone member, so we’re always happy to help you find a belay partner. Just come up to the front desk and we’ll make an announcement to help pair you up.

My kid loves climbing. Where do I fit into all this ropes business?

We require people to be 14 or older before we entrust them with the awesome power of a blue belay card. If you’re bringing in younger kids, parents are more than welcome to belay their whole group. Feel free to give us a call or come talk to us in person if you’re coming in with some younger folks and need some info on how to keep everyone safe.


I love these tall walls with long, flowy sequences! Tell me all about them!

While the pictures say a thousand words, some of our more popular features include the sport climbing prow, a pillar with not one, but TWO overhangs, and a stemmable chimney section with so much 3D beta it’ll make your head spin.

I hate these tall walls with long, flowy sequences! I want walls even shorter than the bouldering section! With harder moves! On steeper terrain! And glassier holds!

Man, have we got a treat for you: Head on up the stairs to our brand-new training room! You can get acquainted with the punishing 35-degree wall before hopping over to our 45-degree systems wall, dappled with extra-challenging wooden holds. Just note: we won’t take responsibility for car door handles, jar lids, or anything else that gets in the way of your over-developed grip strength.

I am a serious crack addict. Is there any way to satisfy my habit?

From finger jams to full-on chicken winging weirdness, we have cracks of all shapes, sizes, angles, and elevations.

How can I express my deep devotion and love to you, my sweet, sweet Cliffs of Id?

Aw shucks, I guess you could always give us a great review on Yelp, or just come up and tell us in person! You know we love when you visit.

By Alex Scholnick.decorative image

Alex became a Touchstone member in 2013 and loved it so much he quit his 9-5 job to climb full-time. He is now a desk staffer at Cliffs of Id. When he’s not ogling routes, Alex writes content for travel and lifestyle companies while attempting needlessly complex recipes in the kitchen.