Yey or Ney
Whilst not the biggest or newest of the bouldering gyms in Amsterdam, Monk definitely covers all the bases and is worth the trip north of the IJ.
The fantastic terrace on the IJ is great for a brew plus members benefit from access to the Monk network in the Netherlands. Plus did we mention the sauna outside?!
Most cities in Europe have seen new bouldering gyms multiplying like wildfire and Amsterdam is no exception, as the competition for our climbing memberships gets hotter and hotter.
Monk Amsterdam is not one of these. It’s the tried and true ageing warrior battling it out with the new kids on the block. In this article, we’ll take a look at Monk Amsterdam and see whether it’s still got what it takes to draw the local climbing talent.
An Introduction to Monk Amsterdam
Monk is one of the leading bouldering gym chains in the Netherlands with locations in many of the largest cities such Eindhoven and Rotterdam in addition to other locations.
Their gym in the Dutch capital, Monk Amsterdam, is one of the oldest bouldering locations in the city and has been up and running since 2013.
Over the years nearly all of the local districts of Amsterdam have seen new bouldering gyms open to serve the location communities and Monk has always been the go-to place if you live north of the IJ.
Located along the industrial-go gentrified IJ banks, this is a location where you can find numerous breweries, bars and hip restaurants to keep you entertained if you’re getting tired of central Amsterdam.
Access And Getting There
The downside of the great riverside setting is that it isn’t as quick-to-access as most of the other gyms in Amsterdam, or at least it feels that way. Having to go north of the river always feels like there’s that little bit of extra resistance, even if the location is easily accessible by public transport, car or bike.
Getting to Monk by bike from Amsterdam Centraal station for example, will take you a measly 12 minutes according to Google. Het Lab or Beest Boulders are respectively 16 and 13 minutes away, so technically Monk is the closest!
As with most venues in Amsterdam, access is best and quickest bike. Driving to Monk is always an option and there is parking onsight, although it’s a 20 minute drive from the center. The 52 metro goes to the closest station which is Noorderpark, leaving a 16 minute walk from the station to Monk.
The Monk Amsterdam Venue
The venue is typical of most bouldering or climbing gyms: a renovated converted industrial warehouse. Although not the biggest at 500m2 of bouldering walls, the high roofs with with continuous ceiling windows reaching from on side to the other give it a light and airy feeling.
Even though it isn’t the largest of gyms in Amsterdam, it doesn’t have a cramped or enclosed feeling which can be present with a low roof. There is equally sufficient space between the boulders mean that evening at peak hours you’re not walking over each other.
Upon entering you find yourself at the reception area which is shared with the shop, cafe and bar providing access to the locker area and central bouldering floor.
One of the downsides is that there are not many closing lockers and only slightly more cubby-holes. Given the unfortunate frequency at which items can be stolen from climbing gyms it advisable to leave your valuables at home, unless you can get one of the actual lockers.
Boulders And Route Setting
The bouldering problems over 3 of the main walls of the building, with a free-standing boulder in the center. All wall angles and climbing styles are covered well, with perhaps the exception of slabs, although you rarely hear climbers complain about that.
Of the 3 main walls, two of them cover steep overhangs and steep terrain, while the longer middle wall covers vertical and slightly off-vertical angles. The middle free-standing is vertical on all sides.
The boulder problems set are relatively typically with the added touch of more competition style dynamic movements. The route setters do well to create an extensive range of challenges that cater to diverse styles, body types, and skill levels.
The grading can perhaps feel a little stiffer than some of the other locations in Amsterdam. This is mainly due to the fact there is less granularity of colours and grades at the beginner and mid-level of end of the spectrum, meaning the gym feels more geared towards more experienced climbers.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but if you’re starting off then you will cover all of the easy problems relatively quickly.
Bouldering Colours & Grades
The bouldering grades follow the Font scale. The problem colours with corresponding ranges are provided below. There is also a comp circuit is white and mint going up to 8A/B.
For mid-level climbers there is a nice distribution of different grades between 6A and 7A. Where Beest Boulders have only a single colour for 6B/7A, Monk have two providing more granularity at this level.
This comes at the expense of having less of a range through the beginning grades.
Monk Amsterdam Bouldering Colours
The Training Area
The training area is on a completely separate floor than the rest of the climbing gym which is a great touch. It means you can fully concentrate on your fingerboarding without being disturbed.
The training area is made up of:
- Moonboard board
- 8 different fingerboards
- Campus board with 3 different rung sizes plus jugs, pinches and slopers.
- Stretching/gymnastics mats.
Like all other bouldering gyms in Amsterdam, with the exception of Beta Boulders, what’s missing is more free weights.
A bench press, squat rack and barbell for climbers to be able to do more complete strength training wouldn’t go amiss either.
A system or spray wall would also be perfect.
Other than that, you can also gaze out at the beautiful view over the IJ between sets.
Chill Factor and Vibe
Whilst we’re all here to train, it’s definitely nicer in a place with a fun, chill vibe.
As with most locations in the Dutch capital there’s an international vibe, although you’ll definitely hear more Dutch here than in competitor venues, which seem to be dominated by other languages.
The standout feature though for this location, has to be the outdoor terrace overlooking the IJ. In summer this is a great location to chill out with an after-session brew.
For those eager to take a dip you can also swim in the IJ here and there’s even a public sauna to relax in after.
The café/bar area at the entrance serves a regular mix of teas, coffee’s, cakes and energy bars.
The facilities have the usual showers, toilets and cubby holes for belongings. There aren’t many closing lockers, so you may want to leave you latest tech at home.
The Financial Stuff
Monk has venues across the Netherlands, in Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Hilversum. If you’re ever dropping by, members benefit from access to all of these locations.
The opening hours are a great plus: 7am till 12am. If you’re an early bird or night owl, you can head to this location to get your pump on in quiet.
See here for further information on prices.
Our Take on Monk Amsterdam
Whilst this bouldering gym isn’t the largest or newest in Amsterdam, it does very well with what it has. The routes are well set and the gym is definitely tailored for stronger climbers but also has something for newbies and mid-graders.
It’s a tried and tested venue where many of the strongest locals come and train. This is probably one of the reasons that make it the hangout for many of the Dutch weekend warriors.
Unfortunately, like most gyms in Amsterdam the training area is missing a few bits and pieces to make it really top notch. But it’s already pretty good.
Overall, definitely worth a trip North of The IJ.
Was there anything else that you loved or hated about Monk, Amsterdam or something we missed?
Let us know below.