Rock Climb at Desert Rocks Climbing Gym

Posted By: Friday, May 03, 2019

 By Kevin Perry

Elevate your perspective. Attain a higher purpose. Ascend to greatness. These are more than just empty platitudes at Desert Rocks; they are lofty pathways to Zen on the rocks.

“Climbing is not as much a sport as a lifestyle,” extols owner Steve Schechtman.  “It’s unlike throwing a baseball or kicking a soccer ball; it’s both physical and very thought provoking. So there’s a lot going on there, other than just pulling yourself up a rope.” It’s a discipline that draws you in and takes hold of your soul. As Steve admits, “Some folks have been involved with this, like I have, for forever.”

Desert Rocks


Let’s repel down the slope of time and chart Schechtman’s ambitious beginnings. “My wife and I are from the Inland Empire and we came out here specifically to build a rock climbing structure and bring this particular activity to the desert. There was nothing like this out here and it was a great opportunity for folks to do something indoors when it gets very warm outside.”

With a vision of the perfect space emblazoned in his mind, Steve began his quest. “We searched for about a year, looking for a building that was tall enough that would work for this kind of activity, because of course in rock climbing, you need a tall building. We never did find anything.”

Undeterred, the Schechtmans adopted a new philosophy: If you build it, they will climb. “Ultimately, we looked into building; my background is in general construction. We found lots of space out here by the windmills on the north side and bought a lot, and I built our facility. It took about a year in the heavy winds of putting together a very tall building. And then we opened in June, 2015 – almost four years now.”

Desert Rocks

In that time, Steve has stacked up a loyal following. “We have about a hundred regulars with monthly memberships,” he assesses. “We’ve been very well received! We’ve had lots and lots of folks through, I think 10,000 or 11,000 people have been through our gym.”

That number is destined to climb higher than a Desert Rocks client because Schechtman thrives on repeat business. “Our full marketing program has been word of mouth because once somebody comes in, they are immediately interested in coming back and bringing friends or family or a group. Within Palm Springs, it’s been fun to watch it grow. We’ve developed a rock climbing team of young people that compete with other rock climbing gyms in Southern California.”

Steve is thrilled to pass his adventurous acumen to the next generation of Palm Springs, commenting, “We stay active with the local schools. We recently had 105 seventh-graders for an end of the school year climbing party. That was very fun. Y’know, we have climbers from age 3 to age 75. We really have all different walks of life.”

Stepping back to survey his perspective, Schechtman adds, “It appeals to people of all abilities.”

Being the quintessential climber, Steve is eager to lend a hand and give others a leg up. “We also work with local drug and alcohol rehabs and they have found, through clinical evidence, that the empowerment that can be gained through a sport like this that requires such intense focus and concentration, is very therapeutic clinically. I guess they sort of proved what I’ve known from the very beginning: if you’re hanging from your fingertips, you pretty much don’t have much else to think about, other than focusing on the moment at hand.”

While this may sound like a precarious predicament, Schechtman and his team are ready to walk you through the baby steps necessary to scale your first wall. “Most of our climbers are brand new climbers,” he notes. “I think from the beginning, they’re very surprised that it’s not like climbing a ladder, where you’re left right left right and you’re at the top. It’s all about body movement and balance and breathing.”

The holistic nature of this endeavor inspired Steve to branch out (pun intended). “We offer yoga at our gym as well. Rock climbing and yoga have always gone hand in hand because there’s a great deal of mindfulness involved in being a good rock climber. You just have to be aware of where you are and try not to focus on the height as much as focusing on your body position and the moment at hand.”

Schechtman loves seeing his visitors get the proverbial hang of things. “It’s been a real eye opener for most, and it’s very fun to introduce this activity to so many people here that just had no idea what it was or the fact that they’re capable of it.”

Desert Rocks

When asked about his ideal clientele, Steve lists a mountain of possibilities. “What we do is a great date night, it’s a great corporate get-together, it’s a great meeting place.”

Reaching a crescendo, Schechtman concludes, “It’s been wonderful how Palm Springs has embraced us.”

Hold on tight, Steve, because our love of Desert Rocks just keeps on climbing.

19160 McLane St. | North Palm Springs | 760.671.1101

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