MCD Partners

Memphis Daily News
Memphis Rox New Experience
May 24, 2018
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

Climbing mountains, metaphorically speaking, has become my preferred lifestyle. The exhilaration of the climb, whatever the challenge, I find inspirational. However, I have never considered actually scaling a mountain, even a large boulder, until last week when I visited Memphis Rox, a premier rock climbing facility that opened two months ago in Memphis.
I never imagined that right here in Memphis you could learn and practice rock climbing. You could even compete in regional and national competitions as part of a competitive rock climbing team. Or climb for a recreational team. Or just climb because the mountain is there.

Sir Edmund Hillary, who in 1953, along with his two team members, became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest, said of mountain climbing, “How you climb the mountain is more important than reaching the top. It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

This is the vision that drives Memphis Rox: to learn about yourself, how to prepare to meet challenges, work with others and find creative solutions during those climbs throughout your life.

Memphis Rox is a nonprofit climbing and community-building experience. According to Zack Rogers, director of administration, the mission of Memphis Rox is “to bring rehabilitation, healing and a renewed sense of hope to challenged communities by providing a climbing facility and programs to foster relationships across cultural, racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. We will exclude no one, regardless of ability to pay.”

The state-of-the-art facility is open to all, advanced or beginner, there are no age restrictions, and climbs are individualized.
“Climbing is an excellent sport,” Jon Hawk, director of operations, said. “It helps to build confidence, trust, teamwork, responsibility and a sense of achievement. Additionally, kids are exposed to positive leadership and a healthy lifestyle. It’s a new experience that really stretches their minds.”

Memphis Rox also has a full-service fitness area, yoga classes, a Wi-Fi lounge area and a juice bar, along with various sizes of rock walls and boulders. The Top Rope climbing involves climbing up to 45 feet with the use of harnesses and ropes and well-trained instructors. Bouldering involves climbing up to 15 feet without a rope, but with lots of orientation from the instructors, and a deep foam flooring.

I watched as people of all ages practiced the art of climbing. I saw that planning for the climb really develops strategic thinking and problem-solving skills as they studied the wall and collaborated on the best ways to approach the climb. I listened as Michael, a very enthusiastic student from Soulsville who works at Memphis Rox, talked about his experience and how rock climbing changed the course of his life.

“I didn’t know I could climb,” he said. “Now I think, ‘What else can I do?’”

Edmund Hillary was right; it’s not about the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.

Memphis Rox is making an opportunity open to all in our community to be introduced to a sport that has the potential to transform mind, body and spirit.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

Leaders in Educational Consulting and Models for Success
© 2018 MCD Partners