CityRock Adds Cave System

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CityRock climbing gym in Colorado Spings, Colorado is not only letting customers go up the walls, but also behind the walls. A new cave feature is being installed in the gym that will allow expert cavers and newbies to get their fix for tight spaces and belly crawls.

CaveSim creator and owner Dave Jackson crawls through the artificial caves under the climbing area at CityRock Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Jackson, an electronic engineer during the day, spent about three years designing the caves that opened about three weeks ago at the Colorado Springs climbing gym. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
CaveSim creator and owner Dave Jackson crawls through the artificial caves under the climbing area at CityRock Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Jackson, an electronic engineer during the day, spent about three years designing the caves that opened about three weeks ago at the Colorado Springs climbing gym. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

The Gazette is reporting that the CaveSim’s 225 feet of artificial rock corridors is first and foremost a high-tech teaching machine, so passages are adorned with facsimiles of the formations and other things a caver might encounter underground, such as stalactites, soda straws and spun-sugar-delicate helictites. Unlike the real-world versions, however, these are durable and equipped with sensors that trigger a buzzer and lights if a traveler makes contact or gets too close.

“We built it to look like water-carved limestone passages, and there’s water noise on a loop to mask some of the sounds of the gym. There’s lots of little details to make it more realistic,” said Dave Jackson, the 34-year-old creator, whose creation – designed in partnership with his geologist wife, Tracy – took just more than three years to build on site at the downtown gym. “There’s nothing in here that’s meant to be scary for people. We’re really trying to teach people to like caves and cave exploration, so we don’t want to freak them out.”

The idea for a permanent installation came to him one day when he was climbing at CityRock and realized the wealth of space going to waste beneath and behind the walls. When he first pitched the idea to the gym’s owners, though, they were skeptical – and a little confused.

Final flourishes on Phase 1, such as air conditioning to keep the passage at a cave-cool temperature, will be complete by the official grand opening this fall. In the meantime, the space is open to the public and already earning a solid fan base among both experienced cavers and those who are new to the sport.

Read more about how the cave system was invented, how the gym will use it, and more photos at The Gazette.com