The View is Worth the Climb at Vertical Rock 

Tara Delaney belays as her climber ascends the wall. Photo by Matthew Rakola.

The View is Worth the Climb at Vertical Rock 

By Hannah Samlall

If you’ve ever driven down Route 28 in Nokesville, you may have noticed a large, but unassuming building sitting back a bit from the road. From the outside, you’d have no idea that this building houses a massive rock climbing gym and fitness center. 

For over ten years, Ian and Lindsay Colton have shared their passion for rock climbing with the community, while at the same time working to create an environment that is welcoming to those of all ages, backgrounds, and skill sets. “We started [the gym] based on our passion for climbing,” Ian said. “We came across this building and thought what an awesome, untapped market. The building is 50 feet high, open, and it made for the perfect place for an indoor climbing gym.”

Vertical Rock offers a wide variety of programming, including indoor climbing lessons, yoga classes, krav maga, outdoor climbing instruction and expeditions, and more. “We offer all sorts of programs from beginner to expert, as well as all ages,” Ian said. “We can get anybody climbing depending on where they want to go with it. We’ve watched kids grow up through our programs and become part of the family we have here. We love that it’s a fun, family activity that’s fitness-oriented at the same time.”

It’s also great that those of us in less than perfect shape can try it. “People might feel they have  to be at a certain physical level to start. The truth is that there’s the ability to progress here. If you’re interested in trying, we encourage you to try,” Ian said. “There’s a grade system that’s implemented so you can climb easier routes and progress to the more difficult climbs. We encourage you to start where you’re comfortable and push to where you feel you can’t go any further. Next time, try a little harder or get a little higher up on the climb. As you get into the sport, you’ll realize you have the ability to control the amount of endurance you put into it.”

Justin Bridge makes another attempt after a lead climbing fall. A “fall” in this case means the climber falls a few feet, caught by the rope anchored to the wall. Photo by Matthew Rakola.

Their prime location also allows them the unique opportunity to offer outdoor climbing in scenic areas like Talking Headwall and Buzzard Rocks which are within an hour radius of the gym. The Coltons are particularly passionate about sharing outdoor climbing experiences with the Vertical Rock community. That is, after all, where their true love of climbing lies. “We have permits and our guides are licensed to take people to these places with amazing climbing views,” Ian said. “We love when people come to climb indoors as a family, but if the kids want to get outside, we can make that happen. It doesn’t matter where you are skill-wise, we can handle it.”

You can think of the Vertical Rock community as multi-faceted fitness. “We offer many of the same services as a big gym, but a lot of people want something different in their workout routines,” Ian said. In addition to being a fitness center, Ian and Lindsay pride themselves on having created a family at Vertical Rock. “People make lifelong friends here. We’ve had people meet their significant others, and even get married here.”

When they talk about a tight-knit and passionate community of rock climbers, they mean it. Even their staff is composed of rock climbers. This aspect was especially important to the Coltons as they worked to create this positive and upbeat community. “People that come to work with us have a true passion for rock climbing. We don’t care if they’re the best rock climber out there,” Ian said. “We can teach that, but we care that they care about what they’re doing. They’re not just punching the clock; they want to be a member of the community and part of the team.”

At the end of the day, Lindsay and Ian see this as so much more than a rock climbing gym and fitness center. They see it as a place where you can walk in and immediately feel lifted up by the positivity in the room. “The by-product of being here is improved mental health,” Ian said. “I’ve watched as so many people transform their physical health, that they also feel better mentally.”

With 50-foot indoor ceilings and endless outdoor opportunities, the sky really is the limit at Vertical Rock. For more information, visit

Hannah Samlall
About Hannah Samlall 32 Articles
Hannah Samlall is a graduate of Virginia Tech. In 2017, she moved home from The Big Apple to partner with her sister to launch Waterloo Street, a digital marketing agency that offers social media management and content writing for small businesses and entrepreneurs. When she's not working, you can find her exploring outdoors, whipping up a delicious meal or snuggling with her kitten, Dunks.

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