For the past three years, Tyler Pape and Tyson Gray have been working through the details of realizing their dream of opening a climbing gym in Meridian.
With an application filed with the city and the final documents for the loan in order, the two climbing enthusiasts estimate construction of Vertical View Climbing Gym will begin late July. The gym is scheduled to open in spring 2019 if construction doesn’t hit any snags.
The gym will be located at 1334 E. Bird Dog Drive in Meridian, off East Overland Road and Locust Grove Road.
The announcement of its opening came around the same time that Urban Ascent, a climbing gym in Boise, closed April 28. The building was bought by Thomas Development. Urban Ascent was one of two climbing gyms in the valley. The other, Asana Climbing Gym, is an indoor climbing and bouldering gym on North Glenwood Street in Garden City, focusing on “all things bouldering,” according to their website.
Pape and Gray said Vertical View Climbing Gym will fill a hole in rope climbing left by Urban Ascent.
The 31,000-square-foot Meridian gym is planned to be four-stories high with climbing walls varying from 20 feet to 65 feet. The pair hopes to introduce Treasure Valley residents to climbing while providing a place for veteran climbers to keep practicing the sport.
The name Vertical View, Pape said, is a play off climbing and having a positive attitude.
“We hope everyone who walks in and out of the doors has a vertical view in life,” Pape said.
The building will have over 200 climbing routes and a speed wall where climbers can race against each other on the same route. The gym will also have a bouldering area.
Vertical View Climbing Gym staff have already reserved land outside the construction site for an expansion that would add rope courses.
The climbing gym will offer a number of classes for beginners and intermediate climbers. The facility will also have a fitness gym with yoga, spin, cardio and weight lifting.
The gym has steps leading to the 65-foot feature climbing walls — similar to an amphitheater. Pape said investors hope to hold screenings of films in the gym against that climbing wall.
Gray and Pape said reactions to Vertical Views from veteran rock climbers have been fairly positive. They said the majority of the regulars from Urban Ascent live in the North End of Boise but said they would be willing to drive out to be able to climb some of the routes.
CLIMBING ACROSS THE NATION
Both Gray and Pape have traveled to several climbing gyms across the U.S. and based the designs for Vertical Views off some of what they saw. They said their main inspirations included Earth Treks Climbing Gym in Golden, Colorado, Movement Climbing and Fitness in Boulder, Colorado, Planet Granite in Portland, Oregon, and, of course, Urban Ascent.
“(Vertical View) has a lot more of a modern design to introduce the valley to climbing,” Gray said.
According to Mike Helt, editor-in-chief of Climbing Business Journal, there are roughly 30 to 40 new climbing gyms built in the U.S. every year.
He said about a decade ago, climbing gyms began updating their facilities to be more professional — including better amenities and lighting — and started reaching out to a wider variety of people.
Since then, more kids and retirement-age recreationists have begun rock climbing, Helt said.
Rock climbing will be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the first time, according to the Olympic Games’ official website.
Climbers will compete in lead, speed and bouldering — three different formats for rock climbing — and then the winner will be decided by the highest cumulative score. Forty athletes will take part in the competition.
Helt said he doubts whether the introduction of the sport in the Olympics will make any difference in the number of rock climbers in the U.S.
Rock climbing gyms are mostly popping up in large metropolitan areas, like the Washington, D.C., and Boston area and populated areas of the south where rock climbing gyms were previously uncommon or non-existent.
Helt said Boulder, Colorado, had the most gyms built there in 2017, despite the already high concentration of rock climbing gyms in the area. Helt said there is a correlation between average income and density of rock climbing gyms, stating that areas with higher average incomes are more likely to have more climbing gyms.
The rock climbing community is more personal than other communities, Helt said, making it unlikely that someone will come in and build another climbing gym in the valley while Vertical View is still fairly new. He said out of the 469 climbing gyms in the U.S., an estimated 10 of them have 65-foot walls like Vertical Views plans to.
CLIMBING IN THE VALLEY
According to Pape, most of the Treasure Valley hasn’t been introduced to rock climbing and might even be scared of the sport.
“Rock climbing seems to be the underdog,” Pape said. “It’s good for all ages and all skill levels.”
Gray — who started rock climbing several years after attending a group rock climbing session — said the sport is very social. Pape said that was part of the reason they picked Meridian, where the demographic is more family heavy than other areas of the Treasure Valley.
The gym will also offer monthly memberships with special family memberships and student memberships.
“We’re not professional climbers, we just love the sport,” Pape said.
People interested in learning more about the gym can look at renderings of the planned courses on Vertical View’s Facebook page.