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The Aviary at the University of British Columbia


The Aviary is a climbing wall located in the AMS Nest on the UBC Vancouver campus. We are open to everybody, and have top rope, lead climbing, and an array of training tools to suit both new and experienced climbers.

You do not need to be a UBC student to climb here :)

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How busy is The Aviary right now?

Please note that while this tracker does update in real time, it is still only an estimate of the actual gym occupancy and capacity. Entry is always subject to the Monitor's discretion.

Membership and Pricing

  • Day Pass : $10
  • 4 months : $25
  • 12 months: $50
  • Rentals (Shoes, harness, belay device): Free!

We can accept payment by cash and card.


We offer free top rope and lead belay lessons for those wanting to learn for the first time, or to refresh their skills! We simply ask that you leave a $20 deposit to hold your spot. This deposit is refunded when you show up to the lesson. Since this deposit is mandatory, ALL LESSONS MUST BE BOOKED IN PERSON, AT THE GYM. All lesson dates are shown on the calendar.

How to Book a Lesson:

Due to high demand, we do not book lessons more than two weeks in advance from the desired lesson date. If you see a lesson on the calendar that you want to take, visit the gym no more than two weeks before the lesson date to secure your spot! For example, if there is a lesson on the 15th, we can begin booking for that lesson on the 1st.

Please show up at least 10 minutes before your lesson time to get ready for the session. Note that after you complete a belay lesson you will have to wait 7 days until you're allowed to take a belay test.

Top Rope Lessons:

You do not need any previous climbing or belaying experience to take a top rope lesson! If you’ve never climbed before, this is where you should start. A top rope lesson is two hours long.

Lead Climbing Lessons:

For climbers who are confident in top rope climbing, we offer lead climbing lessons. They occur in two modules of 2-hour sessions (which are one week apart, so a total of 4 hours).
  • To take a lead lesson, you must be top-rope belay certified at the Aviary and be able to top rope three 5.9 climbs in a session.
  • You also must be able to top rope belay with an ATC (tube-style device).

Lesson Terms and Conditions:

  • By registering for a belay lesson at the Aviary, you have agreed to arrive 5-10 minutes before the lesson start time in order to sort out paperwork, get fitted for equipment, and get changed. Late arrivals (5 minutes after the scheduled start time) will not be let in and you forfeit your $20 deposit.
  • Cancellations: All cancellations and reschedulings must be made at the gym, in person. You have until 48 hours before the start of the lesson to cancel or reschedule without losing your $20 deposit. If this time has passed, please still send us an email to cancel and give your spot to someone else.


Click to sign online waiver!

Please note the following:

  • Anybody who uses the gym must first sign a waiver
  • If you’re under 19, you need a parent/guardian signature on your waiver
  • Climbers under 16 are welcome, but will need a belayer who is certified and 16 or older.


We are a gym run by volunteers, so our hours are subject to change at relatively short notice. Be sure to check the calendar before coming in.

Note that the two-hour blocks are a reflection of volunteer shifts, and not climbing sessions. You are free to come whenever you’d like during a blocked shift. We ask that you limit your climbing session to two hours to allow other climbers to enjoy the gym :)


The Aviary is available for private bookings. We can accommodate a maximum group size of 12 participants, and no climbing experience is necessary.

Bookings must be made at least 2 weeks in advance. Please fill out this form for further details and pricing.


The Aviary is run entirely by volunteers, and we’re always looking for keen new people to join the team! To get involved, you must:

  • have been a member at The Aviary for at least 4 months,
  • be lead certified at The Aviary,
  • be vouched for by two current monitors.

If you meet these criteria, get in touch to discuss how you can help out!


  • Can I climb here if I've never rock climbed before?
    • There are four things you need to do to climb here:
      • First, you need to sign a waiver (you can do that in the Waivers section of this website).
      • Second, you'll need to learn how to belay (see the Lessons section), and then pass a belay test.
      • Third, you'll need rock shoes, a harness, and a belay device. You can purchase these from any of the many outdoor stores in Vancouver, or rent them on the cheap here at the Aviary (see Membership above).
      • Finally, you'll have to buy a membership or pay a drop-in fee (see Membership above).
  • Can I borrow climbing shoes, a harnesses, and one of those clippy metal things while I'm climbing here?
    • Yes you can! Rental equipment is free :)
  • Why can't I just climb in my Nike's? They're athletic, right?
    • We do not allow non-climbing shoes on the wall. We do this in an effort to avoid coating our expensive climbing holds with outside dirt. Also, you'll have more fun if you use the proper equipment.
  • Can I climb here if I'm under 16 years old?
    • If your guardian signs your waiver and you come with a belayer who is over 16, then yes! However, you will not be allowed to belay until you turn 16.
  • What if I am under 19 years old?
    • If your guardian signs your waiver, then yes!
  • Can I climb here if I have never belayed before?
    • Since The Aviary is exclusively for route climbing, you will need to know how to belay. We promise it's easy to learn, and we'll teach you! See Lessons above for details.
  • I see a sign saying the gym is "full", what does that mean?
    • This means that the current monitor on duty has determined that the gym is at capacity. This is typically around 18 people, but could be more or less, depending on how much attention those people require of the monitor (i.e. if the gym is full of new climbers all needing belay tests or extra supervision, a monitor can call the gym "full" even if it's not at maximum capacity).
  • Do I need to take a belay test to climb here?
    • You will need to pass our belay test to climb and belay at The Aviary. Since different gyms have slightly different standards, we're unable to accept belay certification from other facilities.
  • I've been rock climbing since before rocks were invented, do I still need to take that pesky belay test?
    • Yes. Our insurance agreement requires everyone climbing in our gym to pass a belay test
  • What's this "belay-ing" stuff, anyways?
    • Learn about what belaying is and how to do it in one of our lessons! (See the Lessons section above).
  • What happens if I fail my belay test?
    • You probably just need some instruction! Sign up for one of our belay lessons.
    • If you've taken a lesson already, you might just need more practise! Ask a monitor for some tips.
  • Do you have auto belays?
    • No, we do not have any auto belays.
  • What do I do when I first arrive at the gym?
    • Whether it's your first or millionth visit, always check in! Approach the monitor on duty and tell them you'd like to check in, or scan your membership card if you've set up that service.
  • Why should I become a member?
    • It'll make you cooler, you'll save money if you're climbing frequently, and you'll be invited to attend club gatherings.
  • Can I just boulder here?
    • Only if the current monitor on duty says it's OK. The monitor will make this decision based on the number of people in the gym, and how much supervision those guests require of the monitor. Always ask before bouldering – do not assume it's OK for you to boulder.
  • Can I lead climb here?
    • To lead climb at the Aviary you must:
      • Pass a lead belay test (these may be administered for free by a monitor upon request).
      • Pass a lead climbing test (also administered for free upon request).
      • Check out a lead rope from a monitor (do not pull down a rop rigged for top-roping!!!).
      • The route you plan to lead must not have a climber on either side of that rope (you cannot lead climb on a route immediately adjacent to another climber, lead or top-rope).
    • Lead climbing at the Aviary is only really feasible when the gym is quiet and not crowded (seems like a rarity these days), so note that you may not always be able to lead, and you might have to come back multiple times before getting an opportunity to take a lead climb or belay test.
  • Can I learn how to lead climb here?
    • Yes! We offer lead lessons as often as we can. To register you will have to demonstrate competency to a monitor — to initiate this process, tell a monitor that you'd like to take a lead lesson.
  • How do I take a lead test?
    • Ask a monitor nicely if they can administer a lead test. You will need to pass a lead climbing, and lead belaying test to lead climb at the Aviary. These tests are free and only take about 10 minutes, but they will only be offered if the gym is sufficiently un-crowded to allow for safe lead climbing.
  • Do you test lead climbing and lead belaying separately?
    • Yes. And you'll have to pass both to lead climb.
  • What's "lead" climbing, anyways? Where do you even find a piece of lead big enough to climb?
    • Not the stuff they used to paint childrens toys with – think "lead" as in "leadership". This is a technique used to climb rocks that you can't walk to the top of (i.e. when top-roping isn't possible). Read more here.
  • Why are the gym's hours so unpredictable?
    • Our gym is run by volunteers who try their darned hardest to keep the gym open as much as possible — but sometimes life happens. We believe it's important that our gym be run by volunteers because it keeps climbing affordable, and it gives our volunteers the invaluable opportunity to learn by teaching, but one of the drawbacks is that the hours can change on short notice.
  • The belay lesson is running late and the gym still isn't open, does this make it OK for me to be rude to the monitor on shift?
    • Nope. Always be kind to our monitors. They're opening the gym to you for free out of the goodness of their hearts, so return the favour by treating them with respect.
  • Who are these "monitor" people, anyways? Why're they all so strange?
    • Our wall monitors are volunteers who know a thing or two about climbing and donate their time in order to make the Aviary run. Our wall monitors are rock climbers, and all rock climbers are at least a little weird, therefore our monitors are also weird.
  • Can I be one of these "monitors"? Do I have to be weird too?
    • If you think that you have the knowledge and are sufficiently weird, we're always looking for more monitors to open the gym! If you're free during a time when the gym is currently closed, please tell a current monitor that you're interested. They will write down your contact info, and will also likely provide a reference for you when we initiate our next round of recruiting and training.
  • What's with all the weird wooden things piled against the walls?
    • These strange wooden devices are created by rock climbers to help them strengthen their fingers in hopes that this will allow them to climb harder routes. If you also want stronger fingers so you can climb harder routes, ask a monitor how to use the strange wooden things safely (it's very easy to severely injure your fingers by using these tools improperly).
  • A member in the gym is doing something that I think is unsafe, what do I do?
    • Notify the monitor on duty as soon as possible. They will evaluate the behaviour, and approach the person if they agree that the behaviour is indeed unsafe.
  • A monitor here is doing things that seem unsafe, what do I do?
    • If there is another monitor in the gym that you trust, the best thing to do is to notify that monitor. If the monitor in question is the only one on duty and their behaviour seems to pose an immediate threat to others in the gym, contact AMS Security, either by phone or by visiting their reception desk on the first floor.
  • Someone at the Aviary makes me feel threatened, triggered, or unwelcome, what do I do?
    • If you're comfortable doing so, the best thing to do is to notify a wall monitor. If this isn't possible, but the other person's behaviour poses an immediate threat to the safety of others in the gym, contact AMS Security either by phone or by visiting their receiption desk on the first floor.
  • Why do people get so worked up about the Fermi Paradox?
    • Because they have too much free time and should probably spend more of it rock climbing instead of getting all worked up over hypotheticals.
  • Where does climbing chalk come from and should I use it?
    • Many climbers use magnesium carbonate (a white chalk) to dry up the sweat on their hands in order to hang onto climbing holds that are otherwise hard to hold onto. However, plenty of climbers choose not to use it to save money, to improve their skills, and because they don't believe it adheres to leave-no-trace principles. If you choose to use it, don't spill it in the gym. Also consider the environmental costs of consuming climbing chalk.
  • I've heard bolts are unethical in rock climbing but I see a lot of them here. Explain that, Ben!
    • When climbing on naturally occurring rocks, many people believe it is wrong to permanently or artificially modify that rock in order to climb it. However, our entire climbing wall is artificial, so most climbers don't have a problem with bolts here! Next time you're climbing outdoors, however, consider the ecological footprint of all the trails, bolts, vegetation damage, noise, garbage, and construction that is caused by rock climbers!
  • I have a lot of strong feelings about the route setting here, what do I do?
    • If you absolutely love the route setting, tell our setters (currently coordinated by Caleb and Alex)! It would warm their hearts to hear that.
    • If you don't like the setting, you can make up your own routes with the holds already on the wall, you can contact Alex or Caleb and arrange a time to assist with setting, or you can just get stronger and stop complaining. Our route setters volunteer huge amounts of time to setting for no pay, so if you choose to provide them with constructive feedback on the routes make sure to also thank them for all the hard work they do for us.
  • So what's the deal with crack climbing?
    • All the cracks in the Aviary (those parallel sets of blue rectangles that snake up the wall), as well as the wooden "crack machine" are intended to be climbed by wedging ones hands, fingers, and toes inside and scootching upwards through much pain and suffering. They can be climbed without the use of any other hand or footholds on the wall, although it can be useful to learn how to climb them by first using outside hand or footholds for assistance.
  • How do I climb a crack?
    • ...
  • Are any other kinds of crack allowed here...?
    • At the Aviary we love cracks in the glass ceiling, cracks in the patriarchy, taking a crack at routes that you find challenging, cracking (inclusive) jokes, and even climbing at the crack of dawn. However, we do not allow crack cocaine or excessively exposed butt cracks. Keep your pants on and the drugs out.
  • Can I aid climb here?
    • No.
  • Can I free solo here?
    • Also no.
  • Why does it smell like feet in here?
    • All climbing gyms smell like feet, and ours is no exception.