From Roof To Pillar

Stone Summit before, during and after construction.
Stone Summit before, during and after construction.

In 2010, when Stone Summit opened their first climbing facility in Atlanta, Georgia it was one of the largest gyms in North America. Aside from it’s enormous size, the most eye-catching aspect of the climbing wall was a massive horizontal roof that stretched 145 feet long.

The ambitious feature was dreamed up by Stone Summit co-owner Daniel Luke. “The whole roof was something that I dreamed up and literally drew up at 2 in the morning and faxed it to Bulgaria to the Walltopia crew and they said, ‘All right, let’s get started’,” Luke told CBJ in a phone interview.

But after two years of operating the facility they knew they had a problem. The gym was so busy that on most evenings almost every rope had a line of people waiting to climb, especially routes in the mid-grade ranges of 5.8 to 5.10. And as cool as that long roof was, it was impossible to put a 5.8 or a 5.10 on it. “There were lines that were just jammed pack,” Luke said. “And then [we had] lines on the roof that only a small portion of our members could really utilize.”

So they drew up plans to add a pillar onto the end of the roof. This new pillar would open up the roof from a third access point and add new vertical terrain that would allow for those much needed mid-range routes.

A young climber tackles the middle of the massive roof at Stone Summit.  Photo: Stone Summit
A young climber tackled the original roof structure at Stone Summit. Photo: Stone Summit

Despite the clear benefits of the plan, Luke and his team decided to hold off and see if the opening of their new Kennesaw, Georgia location, which opened in 2014, would alleviate some crowding pressure.

It didn’t.

As the Kennesaw facility, which is about an hour away, grew and gained members, the Atlanta location was still seeing massive amounts of traffic. In fact, Luke told CBJ that the gym has an annual average of about 600 daily check-ins. That means they were still seeing lines of climbers waiting for the most popular climbs.

So finally, this year, Stone Summit decided to pull the trigger and build the long-awaited roof pillar. Walltopia, working at night, started opening up the roof on October 24th and worked for about ten days to complete the project. The pillar adds about 2000 square feet of new vertical terrain and opens up the top sections of the roof, which Luke says previously were, “used by … 10 people. It wasn’t ever considered usable surface.”

The new pillar will add nine new rope anchors, allowing for 18 new routes which we can only guess will be the most popular routes in the gym.

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