On the banks of Okanagan Lake in south British Columbia is the small town of Kelowna (pop: 106,710). Coming to this mountainside town in March of 2016 will be the Gneiss Climbing gym, a new bouldering-only facility owned by first-time operators, and long time locals, Chris and Nancy de Vries.
Kelowa has an existing climbing gym, Beyond The Crux, which underwent a remodel in 2015 after a change of ownership. The Gneiss climbing gym hopes to tap into the existing indoor climbing community as well as the large outdoor bouldering scene.
Chris de Vries sat down with Squamish Climbing Magazine to find out more about his project.
“We have 5000 square feet of floor space with a main bouldering area, separate kids climbing area (with some ropes), work out space and some straight chilling spots.”
“Climbing gyms are often limited in success due to lack of space for people to hangout; more climbing surface does not equal better climbing gym. Although I could have added a central boulder or some other features, I opted instead for creative seating and open space, this should promote the sort of social atmosphere and that is a major goal of mine with this project.”
“Finances are always the biggest hurdle taking on something like this, you have to balance facility you want vs. the facility you need vs. the facility you can afford. Although I dream of providing Kelowna with a facility comparable to Hive North Shore, but at 18,000sq ft is something like that feasible with our demographics? Jason Holowach really helped get me over this hurdle and also acted as a sounding board as I contemplated different scenarios for facility size and amenities. Landing on our space was a huge highlight for us. It was frustrating to look at so many buildings that were either, too big, too small, too far, too dark or too lame. Ours is right in that sweet spot for sustainability and ticked the boxes for height, location and architecture.”
Read more about de Vries efforts to bring a modern climbing gym to the Okanagan Valley at Squamish Climbing Magazine.