I love being the first person to find out about a new venue for kids’ entertainment, but credit for discovering the brand-new New Orleans Boulder Lounge (NOBL) belongs to my dear friend and mother-of-two, Danielle Calhoun. Opened in late summer, it’s a great place to keep kids busy while they stretch those muscles, get in a great exercise and climb to new heights. The best part is, bouldering is a ton of fun too!
What is Bouldering?
For those of you who, like myself, only had a vague idea of what bouldering is, allow me to explain: Bouldering is ropeless climbing on rocks or boulders that are no more than 20 feet high. The indoor version, which takes place in a bouldering gym, involves climbing on man-made walls with various grades of incline.
NOBL is the brain-child of owner and entrepreneur Eli Klarman who converted the almost 30,000 square foot warehouse type space of the Cotton Press building on Tchoupitoulas Street into a hip, inviting climbing space. Residing in the fourth flattest state in America, it isn’t surprising that climbing surfaces in New Orleans have to be built! The slanted walls, surrounded by padded foam flooring, rise 12 to 14 feet high against a backdrop of exposed brick walls, huge windows and a unique industrial-feel ceiling with massive exposed beams. It is also the only bouldering gym in the metro area.
How Does it Work?
Since there are no ropes or harnesses used in bouldering, the only gear you need to get started is climbing shoes, which you can bring in or rent from NOBL for $4. You are supported only by your hands and feet and the grips protruding from the brightly colored walls. The grips are also multi-colored. At first glance, you might think this is just for aesthetic reasons since it contributes to the vibe of the environment, but in actuality the colors signify routes of different difficulty levels from beginner to more advanced. Pick one color and follow it and you will criss-cross the walls as you rise to the top, more closely mimicking an actual rock climb. Of course, young kids, who aren’t quite at that level, can move freely from color to color. My friend’s 6-year-old’s climb resembled a game of Twister more closely than a mountain climb, but the smile never left her face and the laughs were plenty!
What Does It Cost?
The check-in desk is centrally located right inside the front door. Eli is usually there to help you select the right package for your bouldering experience. Drop-in day passes are available and are priced as an adult pass for $15 and a student/child pass for $12 with a five-visit punch card available for $60 for adults and $50 for students or children. The punch card is a great option if you’re bringing several kids together. Adult and student/child monthly memberships are also available. The prices vary depending on the number of months you purchase but average approximately $65 per month. Plus, if you and your child both decide to become regulars, there is a Family Membership that covers both of you for $90 per month.
NOBL also offers daily specials including an afterschool special every Monday from 3-5 p.m., when student admission is just $8 (gear included) with a student ID. There is also student night every Thursday from 6-10 p.m., when admission is just $10 (gear included). There isn’t a minimum age requirement, but it’s important to note that children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. NOBL also boasts a yoga room that could double for birthday parties in the future. The day we visited, they also had a selection from Breads on Oak available for purchase if your gang needed a mid-climb snack.
Need to Know
For more information and specific hours, visit ClimbNOBL.com.