DÉLIRE – Dedication to the Community

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Community members celebrating at a 2022 DÉLIRE Enduro event
The word “community” may be used a lot, but it’s popular for a reason, and it’s hard to overstate its importance in the climbing world. It’s a north star all around the industry, including at DÉLIRE. (Pictured: community members celebrating at DÉLIRE’s Enduro event last year; all photos by Olivier Dumas, courtesy of DÉLIRE, unless otherwise noted)

DÉLIRE, the Quebec-based climbing wall manufacturer and gym operator, is known for pushing the boundaries of the climbing industry. The team’s sustainable practices and outside-the-box mentality have distinguished their work for years. While those traits are staples of their brand, there is an underlying motivation behind everything they do: a dedication to the community.

Climbing as a Way of Life

It is well known that climbing is much more than a sport, a movement practice, or an adventure activity; it brings people together to break boundaries and assumptions, push personal growth, and foster meaningful connectedness. This belief has been at the core of DÉLIRE since its founding in the early 2000s.

“I’ve always believed that climbing is more than just a sport,” says co-founder Beaulieu. “It’s a way of life, a community, and a shared passion that can truly transform people’s lives.” The passion and transformative effects were personally experienced by friends and co-founders Jeff Beaulieu, Lisa Lajoie and Vincent Légaré, who are central to the development of the Quebec climbing scene. “Climbing has the power to teach us valuable life lessons about perseverance, teamwork and personal growth,” says Lajoie. “I’ve personally experienced the transformative effects of climbing, and I wanted to create a platform that could extend those benefits to as many people as possible.”

“When I embarked on my journey as a climbing entrepreneur and founded DÉLIRE,” says Beaulieu, “my primary motivation was to create a space where climbers of all levels and backgrounds could come together, share their love for climbing, and push their limits in a supportive and inclusive environment.” Contrary to some traditional business methodologies, the founders of DÉLIRE quickly discovered that being community focussed went hand in hand with successful business in the industry. “We’ve learned that by prioritizing the needs and aspirations of our community members, we not only foster a strong sense of belonging, but also build a sustainable and thriving business. The climbing community is not just our customer base; they are our partners in the journey of growth and improvement, and we remain dedicated to serving and enriching this community in every way we can.”

Whenever they embark on a new project, they come back to those foundations, and ask themselves two questions: What are the needs of the climbing community? What can I do to help the community grow and encourage people to climb?

Open gym design at Rose Bloc
Intentionally designing a gym with these principles in mind and thoughtfully leaving plenty of room for humans to connect off the walls can go a long way toward fostering a sense of community at the facility. (Pictured: open space at Rose Bloc in Quebec, crafted by DÉLIRE)

Community-Driven Design

Acting on this community-driven ethos has taken DÉLIRE in some interesting directions. One direction pertains to designing climbing centers. To foster that sense of community, DÉLIRE doesn’t design walls for specific types or groups of customers—they design it for progression.

“Instead of having a different space for each type of climber, we design the space with the customer journey in mind,” says Légaré. While there is a need for spaces dedicated to beginner routes and kid-friendly boulders, DÉLIRE also intentionally encourages overlap between climbers at different levels.

“One of the great things about growing up in a climbing gym is the exchange between experts and beginners,” says Beaulieu. “It’s important that they all have their place in the gym, but also that there’s room for them to meet and share. It’s important to choose wall angles and create spaces that will cater to climbers of all skill levels.”

When prioritizing community-focused designs, it turns out that it’s not just about the walls—it’s about the entire space. “One thing that’s often overlooked is the importance of the space that doesn’t contain walls or mats,” adds Beaulieu. “When creating a climbing gym, we all prioritize having as many walls as possible. However, we sometimes forget that we spend just as much, if not more, time on the ground as we do on the wall. That’s why it’s crucial for people to have a comfortable space when they’re not climbing.” DÉLIRE intentionally creates comfortable open spaces to help foster those meaningful interactions between climbers.

A 2023 competition at DÉLIRE Escalade Lévis
Competitions for climbers of all skill levels is just one component of the community programming at DÉLIRE’s five gyms—including DÉLIRE’s new Lévis location (pictured), which opened this year.

Inclusivity Initiatives

How a company does business, who it caters to, and how it builds its programming can say a lot about the underlying ethos of the business. DÉLIRE strives to live up to their ethos by creating community initiatives based around inclusivity. One of their most successful community programs is Blocs x Filles—bouldering sessions, both indoor and outdoor, that are catered specifically to women. DÉLIRE has open doors for many community organizations, like Montreal’s Queer Bloc initiative. In their climbing competitions, they don’t award prizes to the best climber, but to any participant. “These events provide opportunities for climbers to challenge themselves, set goals, and connect with others who share their passion for climbing,” says Lajoie.

DÉLIRE also gives back in the way of community fellowships. In 2023 alone, the company awarded thousands of dollars for three separate entities: a gym in a remote area; a first nation gym for the Crie Nation; and a fund for young athletes. They also donated a small climbing wall to a daycare center in a remote region of Quebec that previously didn’t have access to any climbing structures.

Over the past few years, DÉLIRE is proud to have installed walls in two first nation communities.

“We truly believe this sport has so much to give back to climbers of all ages and their communities,” says Beaulieu. “It’s an honor to be part of the process with [these communities].”

A Blocs x Filles outdoor session
The Blocs x Filles outdoor and indoor bouldering sessions at DÉLIRE take place throughout the year and are run by and for women in the gym communities. (Photo by Julie-Anne Perreault of a Blocs x Filles outdoor sesh last year)

Connection to Nature

While DÉLIRE’s core business is in indoor climbing spaces, they have been and remain focused on and connected to the natural world. Beaulieu is one of the pioneering outdoor developers in the Quebec region, and his passion for developing outdoor climbing areas is rooted in the sport and belief in its transformative power.

“Climbing has been a central part of my life, offering me not only physical challenges but also profound personal growth,” he says. “It has taught me the importance of perseverance, problem solving and teamwork.” That passion naturally led him to want to share those experiences with others and create new climbing opportunities, including opportunities to head outside. “Climbing often takes us to breathtaking natural environments,” he says. “Through my experiences in the outdoors, I developed a deep appreciation for the beauty and fragility of our natural world. This appreciation fuels my commitment to ensuring that outdoor climbing areas are preserved and used sustainably.”

By developing projects outside, and devoting time and resources to climbing areas in Quebec, Beaulieu and others have “expanded access for climbers, making outdoor climbing more accessible to a wider range of individuals. This has allowed the community to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of the region while pursuing their climbing passions,” says Beaulieu.

“Community-centered” is a concept that is frequently tossed around in the climbing industry, and yet one that remains difficult to be loyal to. Whether it’s in facility design, inclusive programming, bringing climbing to marginalized communities, or simply expanding access to climbing outside, DÉLIRE is a brand that truly walks their talk.

 


This story was paid for by the sponsor and does not necessarily represent the views of the Climbing Business Journal editorial team.

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