Local Climbers Give Utah Adventure Town Its First Gym

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Rendering of the bouldering walls and Kilter Board at Climb Moab
Climb Moab will be the small town of Moab’s first climbing gym and will help fill the need for an indoor climbing hub in the outdoorsy area. (Rendering by OnSite; all photos courtesy of Climb Moab)

Climb Moab
Moab, Utah

Specs: Kaya Lindsay and Britt Zale are Moab locals and co-founders of Climb Moab, a climbing gym expected to open in Moab, Utah, this winter. According to Lindsay, “There has been an urge for a climbing gym in Moab for many years,” but a dedicated facility hadn’t yet come to fruition. A town of just over 5,000 year-round residents, Moab is well known for its scenery and adventure sports, but the seasonality of its outdoor tourism industry can deter some potential business owners from setting up shop. “There are really big seasons and then a lot of businesses close town for the winter and the summer,” explained Lindsay. “Our business model has always been to focus on locals. And we believe that we can 100% run a business off local climbers and local families.”

TACO Skin Sander from Chalk Cartel

Zale moved to Moab in May 2017 and “was shocked to learn that Moab didn’t have a climbing gym,” she said, hearing climbers talk about “the lack of indoor climbing and a community hub.” However, Moab community member Nolan Smythe was working to fill the void and had a gym in the works. “Over the years Nolan and I became friends, and I loved his passion for the project,” Zale said. “When he tragically passed away in a climbing accident in 2020, the Moab climbing community was devastated. I knew someone needed to step up and take over the project. Dovetailing with my lifelong desire to start my own small business after years of watching my father run one, I announced that I would take on the challenge and started Climb Moab LLC in February 2021.”

Nolan Smythe
“[Nolan] was a climber’s climber. He was world-class in every way, not only in his climbing ability, but as a human, son, friend and lover,” longtime climbing partner Aaron Livingston said of Nolan Smythe (pictured) in 2020. (Photo by Savannah Cummins)
Zale dove in and began going to the library to research contracts and business plans, putting in the work to open a gym. Lindsay partnered with Zale in December 2022, and the pair began the hard climb of finding a suitable building in the area. “I think the biggest barrier to anyone trying to open a gym [in Moab] is that the second something comes on the market, it’s purchased by massive investors,” said Lindsay, who also noted that “land and storefronts in Moab are very expensive.” Eventually, a garage space became available, and they jumped on the opportunity.

 

Approach

Climb Moab will feature 15-foot boulders, 20-foot rope walls, crack climbs, a Treadwall and an 8×12 Kilter Board. The gym will also have cardio machines, a fitness loft, free weights, Olympic weights and a retail area. Lindsay and Zale hope to involve the local community in the gym’s offerings, with their eyes on local bakers and a local kombucha store. They also hope to do climber movie nights and bouldering night parties, serving as a central hub for Moab climbers.

“There is worldclass climbing in Moab, but a lot of times the community of climbers in Moab can feel a little bit fractured,” Lindsay shared. “Part of that is because there is so much climbing in Moab that it’s really hard to run into people.” For example, she and Zale climb consistently throughout the area and have never run into each other without planning a meetup ahead of time, showing the need for a community space. “There’s this desire for a central hub, which I think is something that is important to both of us, that we can foster that community. There’s also the desire to get stronger. Crack climbing is really hard, but it can make you really weak. Your fingers don’t get a lot of a workout in the same way that if you’re crimping things. And so having a gym and having a place to train can really elevate your climbing ability. And then the ecological impact, as well, I think is important,” said Lindsay.

Rendering of the roped walls and fitness area at Climb Moab
In addition to the roped and bouldering walls, Climb Moab will have training walls, fitness equipment and a retail area post construction.

Lindsay and Zale hope Climb Moab will act as an educational guide for climbers in the area. The rock climbing options around Moab are exclusively sandstone, which breaks if climbed on while wet. Rather than watching climbers wait to get on the rock between rainstorms, the duo hopes climbers will consider going to Climb Moab instead, where they can take crack climbing courses and a course on building safe anchors outside. “Being more ethical outdoor adventurists or enthusiasts is something that is important to both of us,” Lindsay said.

Walls: Onsite
Flooring: Onsite
CRM Software: Rock Gym Pro
Website: www.climbmoabgym.com
Instagram: @ClimbMoabGym

In Their Words: “One of our greatest assets in this build is our community. We’ve really been able to lean on locals to help us out…It is a little bit of a small-town effort, which is really cool. And everyone we talk to is really excited about the gym, and so that feels really positive. We’re really lucky that, as a small business, people are so excited for us to open.” – Kaya Lindsay, Climb Moab co-owner and co-founder

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