Former ABC Kids Owner Opens Facility in Colorado Ski Town

Steamboat Climbing Collective kids area
Founded by former ABC Kids owner Karla Lankford, Steamboat Climbing Collective opened earlier this year with a full range of its own youth offerings. (All images courtesy of Steamboat Climbing Collective)

Steamboat Climbing Collective
Steamboat, Colorado

Specs: Karla Lankford, the former majority owner of the recreational side of ABC Kids in Boulder, Colorado, used her years of gym operation experience to open a climbing gym in Steamboat, Colorado. Three weeks after deciding to sell her share of ABC Kids in 2021, Karla discovered the local Steamboat climbing gym was going to liquidate. Lankford called her former co-workers Chris Hampson and Holly Seamans to see if they would be interested in operating the gym with her, ultimately leading to her bid on the Steamboat facility. “After finding out the local Steamboat climbing gym was liquidating, I was disappointed as I feel every community can benefit from an indoor climbing gym,” said Lankford. “The gym and the warehouse were for sale, making it a viable investment. Chris and Holly were previous colleagues, so I knew I wanted them involved, and they were both eager to be a part of the new gym.”


Steamboat Climbing Collective opened last March, after renovations were made to the original facility. The operators decided to keep the bouldering and top rope walls but, “as a family-owned gym,” Lankford described the necessity of creating a kid-friendly climbing area. “We also were able to add in a slide and birthday party room to make sure it’s fun for all ages,” Karla noted. Additional amenities include a “secret cave,” Kilter board, and two auto belays. The 21-foot top rope walls and the bouldering walls were repainted and reset, totaling over 2,245 square feet of climbable surface.

Lankford’s time at ABC inspired many of the youth program offerings at Steamboat, which include summer camps, birthday parties, and after-school programs. She also designed a small youth team to create a “fun and challenging atmosphere” for athletes looking to practice and compete with other Colorado teams. For adults, Steamboat offers belay classes and recurring events such as college nights and ladies’ night, as well as a Senior 55+ program during the day. According to Lankford, “Steamboat has a very vibrant senior population, and we hope that climbing can augment the activities available for this very active group.”

Bouldering at Steamboat
Steamboat caters to youth and adult climbers, with the gym’s bouldering walls being used for youth teams, college nights, and a senior program.

Walls: Eldorado Walls
Flooring: Eldorado Walls
CRM Software: Capitan
Instagram: @SteamboatClimbingCollective

In Their Words: “As a previous climbing gym owner/operator, I’ve learned from my mistakes, successes, employees, and other fantastic climbing gyms in Colorado! All of these experiences helped me and my team create Steamboat Climbing Collective.” – Karla Lankford, owner