Idaho Climbing Gym Comes to Life After Five-Year Journey

Coeur Climbing Company building entrance
In the works since before the pandemic, Coeur Climbing finally opened to the public this summer, bringing an indoor climbing option with a bit of everything to the Washington-Idaho border. (Photos courtesy of Coeur Climbing Company)

Coeur Climbing Company
Post Falls, Idaho

Specs: Coeur Climbing Company, a decade-plus vision of majority owner Daniel Shaw, held their grand opening on July 9th in Post Falls, Idaho, a town neighboring Coeur d’Alene. Shaw had been “wanting to build a climbing gym for about five years, and toying with the idea for about 15,” he said, noting Coeur d’Alene is a sizable city that had been without a standalone climbing gym. After his boys were old enough to start school, Shaw found himself with more time to pursue the idea. “I decided that 2020 was a good time to open a gym, but it didn’t happen,” recounted Shaw.

Elevate Climbing Walls

In 2019, Shaw and his first business partner had a loan approved, bought land in the center of Coeur d’Alene, designed a building, and planned to start construction. But once COVID hit, their builder postponed construction indefinitely. “We waited more than a year until myself and my two other partners at the time decided we really wanted to go on, and the builder wanted to pursue less risky ventures,” Shaw said. Consequently, the banks wouldn’t loan the team enough money; due to supply chain issues, the gym would have been twice the original cost.

Because the ground-up plan was no longer financially viable, the Coeur team opted to lease a building. That decision began the long journey of looking for a suitable building in the region within their price range, while searching for more partners. (Leasing, rather than owning the planned facility, caused three former partners to lose interest.) By the end of Summer 2022, Shaw’s new team—consisting of Jeff Fowler, Jeff Dance and Brad Tanner—found an available property in Post Falls. They signed a lease in October and started construction soon after.

Climbing walls at Coeur
Although the gym’s features had to be scaled back from the original vision, Coeur still has roped climbing and auto belays to go with the bouldering, and expansion in the future is on the table.

Although development in Post Falls was Plan B, according to Shaw the city ended up fitting the gym’s needs better than Coeur d’Alene. Coeur Climbing is now located in an affordable, industrial area that Shaw described as pleasant and close to the freeway, which he hopes will increase visitor traffic. Additionally, Post Falls is closer to Spokane, Washington, potentially encouraging climbers in between the two cities to make the trip across the border. And while Shaw is pleased with their current facility, it is something he’d like to grow eventually. “We originally had plans of making 50- to 55-foot-high walls when we were building, and now we’re in a warehouse that only has 24-foot walls. So, our rope climbing is very limited, and we’d like to eventually expand into making a larger gym that’s roped as well,” he explained. “If that doesn’t work, then eventually we’ll look for a new facility because our vision is to have tall, major rope walls, and then even to have satellite locations as well.”

Elevate Climbing Walls

The downsizing of the original plan also meant the team had to reevaluate their business model and scale back their membership and revenue projections. But Shaw noted the current facility still has the best bits of the first model, with some amenities simply scaled down. “It’s less, in the realms of fitness, yoga and rope climbing,” he described. “We still have all that, but it’s just smaller.” In addition to 15-foot boulders, Coeur has a kids/youth climbing area with a 9-foot bouldering wall, a slide, and adult routes for parent/child interaction on an isolated mezzanine. Other amenities include a MoonBoard, hangboards, a campus board, a rental shop, and cardio equipment.

Coeur fitness area
In addition to the climbing and training areas, Coeur has a fitness space with various free weights, stationary bikes and treadmills.

Walls: EP Climbing
Flooring: UCS
CRM Software: Approach
Instagram: @CoeurClimbing

In Their Words: “I don’t give up. I committed once I made the decision five years ago. It’s been a crazy road and [there have] been a lot of challenges. We’ve continuously had setbacks with construction and building permits and stuff like that, and we keep moving forward. Be willing to be in it for the long run, and be willing to change direction and change what you need to do.” – Daniel Shaw, Owner/Manager of Coeur Climbing Company

Climbing Gym Management Series