The Mt. Mendota Climbing & Bouldering Wall supports bouldering, top roping, and sport climbing. The Bouldering Wall is 13 feet tall and the Climbing Wall is 32 feet tall, for a combined 1,900 square feet and 8 lanes of climbing surface. Climbing is free for all members during regular hours, and all gear including shoes and harnesses is free for all members as well! No experience is needed to participate. We’ll have staff to help out anyone who’d like to climb.


Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center
1976 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Daily Schedules

Live Usage

Mount Mendota


May 13 – August 25

Day of the Week Hours
Monday - Thursday 2pm - 8pm
Friday - Sunday Noon - 6pm

Adjusted Hours

Maintenance Closure Week

Dates Hours
May 12 - 19 CLOSED

Memorial Day Weekend

Dates Hours
May 25 - 27 CLOSED

Independence Day

Dates Hours
July 3 2 - 6pm

Climbing Wall Staff Training

Date Hours
August 29 CLOSED

Check back in April 2024 for fall hours.

Check back in February 2025 for spring hours.

Check back in February 2025 for spring break hours.


The kilter board is a state of the art piece of climbing equipment meant for climbing strength and technique training. Check out this video on how to use it!

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How does it work?

  • With a Kilter Board’s light-up holds and adjustable pitch, you’ll have access to well over 100k unique climbs contributed by people all over the global climbing community, from your average everyday gym-goers to professional, celebrity climbers.
  • Connect to the board with the Android or iOS app, set your climbing grade preferences, and search the catalog for a climb you want to train!
  • Your “problem” (what we call climbing paths in the discipline of bouldering) will be marked with LED-illuminated climbing holds which are color coordinated to denote starts and finishes, as well as which holds you can use for both hands and feet or those intended only as feet.
  • Once you select your problem on the app, use the control panel to adjust the angle of the board.

When can I use it?

The Kilter Board is available for use any time the Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center is open.


What do the colors mean?

  • Green: Place your hands here to start. Don’t reach for anything else until both feet are off the ground. You are also allowed to step on these when necessary.
  • Yellow: You may use these only for your feet. You may also use shoe friction against the black surface of the board itself.
  • Blue: These may be used for your hands or for your feet.
  • Pink: These indicate the final hold(s) of the climb. Reach these using only the holds in the climb, per their rules, to complete the problem.

Have more questions?

Ask a Mt. Mendota staff member for assistance at any time. If Mt. Mendota is closed, find a Rec Well staff member for help!


Climbing clinics are single day instructional programs focused on specific climbing skills and techniques. Clinics are perfect for any climber looking to improve their climbing experience or build new skills.

Image of climbing staff giving instruction to a member.

Lead Climbing Clinic

This clinic will teach you what you need to know in order to indoor lead climb and lead belay at Mt. Mendota. Participants must be Top Rope Belay certified at Mt. Mendota and be able to comfortably climb a climbing grade of at least 5.9.

Price: Student – $5, Members – $10

Dates and times vary, check our registration page below for more information.


Member looking up at Mt. Mendota Climbing wall at Bakke

Top Rope Belay Lesson

In this Top Rope Belay Class you will learn how to tie in and belay another climber. Our trained staff will teach you everything you need to know about belaying.

Price: Student – $5, Members – $10

Dates and times vary, check our registration page below for more information.



Climbing wall events are a great way to meet other climbers, learn new techniques, and challenge yourself in a fun and supportive environment. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, there’s an event out there for you!

Student using the bouldering wall at Mt. Mendota within the Bakke Recreation and Wellbeing Center.

New Climber’s Night

New to climbing and want to learn the basics? Mt. Mendota’s New Climber’s Night is an opportunity for people who want to begin their climbing journey to learn and be encouraged. These free events will feature several climbing instructors who are ready to teach you what you want to know!

Stay tuned for more dates.


Image of woman climbing on mt. Mendota climbing wall covering a portion of her face with her hadn

Women+ Climbing Night

Want to experience indoor rock climbing in a welcoming and supportive environment? Mt. Mendota’s Women+ Climbing Night is a free event that is staffed by knowledgeable and experienced women and non-binary student staff members. All women, trans women, nonbinary, gender expansive, and anyone who is seeking this community is encouraged to attend. All skill levels are welcome and instruction will be provided!

Stay tuned for more dates.


Image of Mt. Mendota that highlights a climber on the wall as well as patrons standing nearby waiting to climb

Queer Climbing Night

Show your pride at the Climbing Wall! Mt. Mendota’s Queer Climbing Nights are free, registration only events that are staffed by our knowledgeable and experienced members and allies of the community. All LGBTQ+ students are welcome, and instruction will be provided, so all skill levels are encouraged to attend.

Stay tuned for more dates.


Student employee climbing on the bouldering wall at the Bakke Recreation and Wellbeing Center.

Mt. Mendota Climbing Competition

This friendly climbing competition is an opportunity to test your top rope climbing & bouldering skills against other UW-Madison climbers. There will be brackets for beginner, intermediate, and advanced climbers, so all skill levels are encouraged to participate.

All participants must purchase an Intramural Sports Pass and register through FusionPlay in order to participate. A commemorative t-shirt and gear rental are included with registration.

Check back later for future competition information.


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How much does it cost?

It is 100% free to all students and members! This includes all rental gear like climbing shoes and harnesses.

Do I need to make a reservation?

No! We have open rec hours within the Bakke’s regular hours of operation. During these times, members are free to come in and climb as much as they want.

What type of climbing is available?

Mt. Mendota has a 13 ft. bouldering wall as well as a 32 ft. top rope/lead climbing wall. There are 3 auto belays and 5 ropes for top rope climbing.

Do I need to know how to climb to participate?

No! We have trained staff members to belay, coach, and encourage you up the wall. Check out our available educational programs and clinics if you want to learn more!

Are you hiring?

We are not currently hiring for the climbing wall. If you are interested in working, reach out to with questions or check our student jobs page for more information.