Onsight Rock Gym

5335 Western Avenue

Knoxville, TN 37921

(865) 888-9123

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5335 Western Avenue
Knoxville, TN, 37921


Onsight Rock Gym is a brand new, world-class indoor rock climbing gym in Knoxville. Featuring over 12,000 sq feet of climbing surface and walls that soar over 50 feet tall, we are Knoxville's largest and tallest rock climbing gym. Onsight offers top rope/lead climbing and bouldering for all ages and abilities as well as a wide array of programming for adults and youth. Onsight even has a separate climbing room for private parties and events. We are proud to be a part of Knoxville's community! 


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Climbing Specialization: One Pro & One Con

Yolanda Chen

Lots of people want to “get better at climbing.” However, since climbing is so varied in it’s disciplines and nuances, “getting better at climbing” has a variety of interpretations. When someone say “climbing” he or she may mean sport climbing, bouldering, trad climbing or, believe it or not, even ice climbing or mountaineering. However, it is usually the case that the person is talking about her specific, chosen sub-genre within climbing. And this does make sense - a boulderer is not going to have mountaineering in mind when thinking about his or her own climbing progression. But how much specialization is appropriate? Can a climber become over-specialized? To what degree is branching out in climbing helpful? These are ultimately questions each climber must answer for herself, but consider the following as food for thought.


There are a number of benefits from specialization within the world of climbing, but perhaps the key benefit is dialing in technique and tactics so as to ultimately reach peak performance. If you want to become the best boulderer you can be, it makes sense that you spend a great deal of time bouldering. Your body and mind will adapt to the specific demands of the chosen discipline and you will more fully develop the requisite skills and energy stores for your chosen discipline (power versus endurance, for instance). Over the course of time focusing on one type of climbing, you will learn specialized tactics that enable you to do better in that discipline. These improvements in specialized strength, technique, and tactics go far beyond the general categories of bouldering, sport climbing, etc. Really honing in on a specific climbing project will make you better at compression boulder problems or pumpy resistance routes or fill in the blank. This is why going back to “take a quick lap” on an old project (unless you’ve become a dramatically better climber) can be a rude awakening - your body and mind have moved on from the hyper-specialized state needed to do that rock climb. But for that moment in time when the body and mind are honed in on sending the climb in question, it is truly amazing to see what all the hard work of specialization can produce.

The primary argument against specialization in climbing is also an argument for skill development. Climbing outside of one’s chosen sub-genre will open the climber up to strengths, techniques, and tactics that he or she would not have otherwise encountered. The devoted sport climber may not have much to learn from mountaineering, but there are other disciplines (such as bouldering and trad climbing) which are closer along the spectrum of skill and energy demands. A sport climber will do very well to have the mental and physical ability to bust out a hard boulder problem mid-route, and she will also benefit from being able to find a good hand jam rest or being able to climb confidently well above her protection (both skills developed in trad climbing). Conversely, it is way too common to see a climber of one stripe or another get completely shut down by a technique and/or strength requirement that is slightly outside of his tiny wheelhouse. The Renaissance Man of rock climbing often wins the day.

So, what’s the answer - to specialize or not to specialize? How do you want to develop your toolbox - deep or wide? My own opinion is that there is a time and a place for both. For the beginner climber, garnering as much variety in the wide world of climbing as possible will serve that climber well as she will develop a variety of skills and experiences that will undoubtedly serve her well down the road. Avoiding specialization during the first several years of consistent climbing will also enable the climber to give each type of climbing a fair shot as she considers how she may focus her time in the future. This practice will be hard to follow as the ego will quickly beckon you to the climbs that make you look and feel good, but avoiding specialization early on will pay dividends in the future. For the advanced climber, pushing into the next level of performance will likely require a greater level of specialization. Achieving your absolute hardest route or boulder problem will not happen by spending each weekend engaged in a different, unrelated type of climbing. Finally, the plateaued or soon-to-be-burnt-out climber can absolutely benefit from the change of pace that comes with getting into a new type of climbing. Many climbers have attested to the refreshment and spark they find in being a beginner again after having spent so much time trying to eek out just a little more performance in their specialized climbing discipline. So, in the end, it depends on you. Make the honest self-assessment of where you are in your climbing and what goals you wish to achieve, then find the path that’s most likely to get you there. And, ultimately, have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously - after all, we’re just climbing tiny rocks in a giant universe!

-- Jonathan Carter, Head Coach

Climbing Lazy Hard Vs. Crazy Hard

Yolanda Chen

We’re all familiar with the feeling of frustration after falling off of a move that seems too powerful or too hard, or the feeling of exhaustion after climbing something at what seems to be our limit. Whether we’ve witnessed this or experienced it firsthand, we, as a climbing community, have accepted these feeling as normal, as a banal platitude, a fact of life. This unfortunate acceptance, however, comes only from the complacency which we exhibit. If we stop and question why we’ve accepted this sensation as normal, we can very easily recognize that it shouldn’t be viewed as such. There’s a time and a place to try hard, but more often than not, a little laziness can go a long way!


Certain areas of our climbing tend to create the largest amounts of failure, exhaustion, and in the long run, plateaus. We’ve all, at one point or another, struggled with our footwork, with big moves, and open-handed holds. Our feet have all inadvertently popped off of footholds, or simply felt too bad to weight in the first place. We’ve all had trouble sticking dynamic moves or holding on through the momentous swing that is certain to follow any sizable move. Every
one of us has faced off with a sloper in what feels to be more of a wrestling match than a move on the climbing wall. And who hasn’t gone home after a day of climbing with sore arms, sore shoulders, and a sore back?! Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the case anymore!

This simple, yet unfamiliar, concept of climbing lazy has benefits that can be easily observed across all climbable terrains. I’m sure, by now, you’re all thinking, “What is climbing lazy?”. In climbing, laziness tends to be somewhat synonymous with efficiency, essentially
expending as little energy as possible when successfully executing a sequence of movements.

Now keep in mind, a not-so- lazy climber can be just as effective as a lazy climber, however, they will clearly not be as efficient, causing them to tire more quickly due to their substantial reliance on physical fitness. This heavy reliance on strength and power also has unintentional consequences on a climber’s tendencies on the wall. The not-so- lazy climber will see an underutilization of their feet and an obvious overexertion of their shoulders, not to mention a dismal consistency in repeating demanding movements, when compared to their lazy counterparts.

Ok, so you want to know the secret to climbing lazy? Well, here it comes! First, let’s consider a static position, before we delve into the concept of lazy movement. Take, for example, something as simple as holding onto a sloper. The two ways in which you can most drastically increase your coefficient of friction on any open-handed hold, are to either apply more force, or change your angle of approach. Our intuition would have us believe that when a hold feels bad, we have to hold onto it harder. This usually involves not only over-gripping with
our hand, but also with our arms, shoulders, and upper back. In short, we tend to naturally want to apply more force. Unfortunately, this not only means that we’re exerting so much energy that we’ll become fatigued very quickly, but it also redirects weight off of our feet, and onto our hands and shoulders, in turn, requiring us to use even more force, simply to remain on the handholds. In some cases, this overexertion of our upper body can take so much weight off of
our feet, that they come right off the holds they were resting on. If we’re to consider the other option to definitively increase the coefficient of friction against the holds, and instead, change
our angle of approach, we’d see vastly different results. To do so, under the same circumstances of holding onto a sloper, you’d simply move your hips as close to your heels as you’re able to, the ultimate goal being to have as much bend, or compression, between your
hips and your feet as is possible, with as much extension between your hips and your hands as is possible. Essentially, you’d be relaxing onto your feet. This position dramatically changes your angle of approach towards the handholds. The direction of pull becomes less ‘in’ towards
the climbing surface, and more ‘down’ onto the holds themselves, allowing utmost laziness in holding on. With your center of gravity low, thanks to the proximity of your hips and your feet,
more of your weight is driven onto your feet, allowing them to be fully and effectively utilized, without fear they’ll unintentionally pop off of a foothold.

Next, let’s examine how laziness fits into movement while climbing. Consider again, the notion of lazily relaxing onto your feet, keeping bend in your body below your hips, and extension above them. You’ll want to strive to maintain this position as much as you’re able to.
As you execute a move with this in mind, you’ll find yourself using your arms more to pivot around handholds, rather than pulling in, towards them. Your feet will remain secure through the duration of the move, as your weight is solidly driven onto footholds by the crouched stance your lower half has taken. Rather than generating more force and momentum than is necessary, you’ll find yourself settling onto holds while totally elongated from the hips up.

At this point, you’re off to a great start on your journey to climbing lazier, but we can go a step further. Some of you may be familiar with the breathing techniques utilized in yoga and certain forms of meditation. Not surprisingly, these can help you to relax considerably more than you may be able to without such methods. This can also be utilized while climbing. Amidst movements, focus not only on relaxing off your hands, and onto your feet, but also on your breathing. Allow each inhale to be deep, slow, and relaxed. Fill your lungs fully, and allow your stomach to expand, all the way down to your pelvic bone. Be sure not to pause between your inhales and exhales. Exhale, releasing the air the same way you would a sigh. Allow the air to come out without restricting its flow, or forcing it out. As your lungs empty, begin to take another breath. This breathing pattern will promote a natural relaxation of your entire body, but most noticeably in your shoulders, upper back, core, and arms, while climbing. This relaxation will further allow you to drive weight onto your feet and off of your hands, allowing for the laziest climbing possible.

With all of these things in mind, head into your next climbing session with the same mentality you would a nap. Remember that climbing doesn’t need to feel difficult or challenging in a purely physical way. Instead of trying hard and finding yourself both frustrated and exhausted, strive for laziness. Using more force and energy is usually not the solution to any problem you may encounter while climbing. Just take a deep breath, relax, and do the move. After all, being relaxed and expending a minimal amount of energy and effort is often the best
route to success!

Climb On Lotion Bar vs. Rhino Repair Cream

Yolanda Chen

Gear Review - Climb On Lotion Bar vs. Rhino Repair Cream

Climbing inside or outside puts a beating on your skin that requires proactive rejuvenation effort in order to get back on the rocks ASAP. I repeat: proactive rejuvenation effort. If you aren’t hip to this jive, then you are missing the boat, my friend. Take care of your skin and it will take care of you! There are a number of options out there for finger tip repair, and Onsight Rock Gym carries two different but equally valuable products products.

ClimbOn Lotion Bar

The ClimbOn lotion bar has been on the market for many years and has earned a constant place in the front pockets of many climbers. During the storied 2015 first free ascent of The Dawn Wall on Yosemite’s El Capitan, Kevin Jorgeson famously used ClimbOn to recover his skin enough to finally succeed on the crimpy traverse of pitch 15. Slightly less worthy of national news, I have used ClimbOn for nearly 18 years of post-climbing skin farming and I have no doubt that the stuff can be traced through my DNA.

ClimbOn is a lotion bar with beeswax as its principle ingredient, So it does leave a waxy, somewhat greasy layer on your skin for a few minutes after application. This side-effect bothers some people and, if you just can’t handle it, then ClimbOn may not be the product for you. But I will have you know that the greasiness you feel is the product working by creating an occlusive environment that brings rapid healing to your worn-out tips and creases. When using ClimbOn, I am simply careful not to touch anything for a couple of minutes after application. No biggie.

One of the main advantages of ClimbOn as a lotion bar is that the bar can easily be applied to specific areas of need. If you have a split crease in your finger, a particularly raw fingertip, or one of those super-painful skin-to-fingernail separations (ouch!), you can hit that puppy with the focus using the ClimbOn lotion bar. Not as fun-and-easy with a cream.

Rhino Skin Solutions Repair Cream

Rhino Skin Solutions is the new kid on the climber skin care block, but many top climbers have already adopted it as their preferred brand for an entire array skin solution products. Rhino’s Repair cream offers a non-greasy skin repair solution. Repair is water-based instead of wax-based, so it does not leave a waxy residue on your skin. Whereas I need to wait a few minutes before touching things after applying ClimbOn, I need to wait about thirty seconds to do so after slapping on some Repair cream. This makes Repair especially convenient to use in a number of situations when you don’t have time just to stare at your beat up hands.

One of the aspects of Repair that many people rave about is the smell. Whereas ClimbOn has a pleasant but subdued odor, Repair comes with a menthol fragrance strong enough to clean out your sinuses while also healing your tips. The menthol in Repair goes beyond just smelling nice, though, as this ingredient does have an anti-inflammatory effect. In this way, Repair goes somewhat above and beyond being a skin care product to being a whole-hand-healing-helper.

My Choice

As I mentioned earlier, I am a long-time ClimbOn user who has learned how to integrate ClimbOn application in such a way that my hands aren’t slipping and sliding through daily life. I did use Rhino Repair cream exclusively for about a month and found it to be effective in promoting skin recovery, but not as effective as ClimbOn. There just seems to be a correlation between the amount of time the product stays on your fingertips (i.e. greasy fingertips) and the effectiveness of the product in healing your fingertips. Thus, you will usually find me with a tin of ClimbOn easily within arm’s reach. As ClimbOn’s slogan says, “Never be far from the bar!”

However, I have also continued to use Rhino Repair cream on occasion due its speedy-drying capabilities and its anti-inflammatory properties. If you are someone who wants to repair skin but also use your hands almost immediately, Rhino Repair cream is a great way to strike that balance. If you are someone who’s hands become particularly swollen and/or inflamed after a taxing climbing session, then Rhino Repair cream may help to alleviate some swelling and soreness.

A final key variable in this equation is the climber’s skin which is certainly different from one climber to the next. You may try Rhino Repair cream and decide that it is much more effective for you than ClimbOn. While ClimbOn has worked best for me, your different skin my yield a different outcome. Therefore, I would certainly recommend testing each option for yourself to see which works best for you.

-- Jonathan Carter (Facility Manager and Head Coach)