New Bouldering Gym Opens Next to “the Birthplace of Sport Climbing in the U.S.”

The Jug Rock Gym building
Located minutes from Smith Rock, The Jug was opened earlier this year with outdoor climbers, youth teams and local families in mind. (All images courtesy of The Jug)

The Jug Rock Gym
Redmond, Oregon

Specs: This past March, Jake Mulvaney and Philip Brennan opened a new bouldering-focused gym, The Jug Rock Gym, in Redmond, Oregon. According to the owners, The Jug was built largely with their own hands and the help of their families and friends; Brennan is a licensed Chief Engineer and certified welder, and Mulvaney has extensive experience working construction and carpentry. “The build of the gym was a culmination of our professional skills, and a lifelong dream,” they said. A big part of that dream was opening the gym just a short drive south of Smith Rock State Park, an iconic climbing area the owners refer to as “the birthplace of sport climbing in the United States.”

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However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the gym project. “It took a while to find a building in Redmond,” the owners explained. Realtors gave them “the cold shoulder” and didn’t respond to their offers, which they assume was because of ongoing supply chain issues and Covid. After searching for eight months, finding dead ends, and pivoting from purchasing a building to leasing, they finally found a property that fit their needs. “The location that we found is ideal because it has tall ceilings that can provide upward growth and it is located right next to the airport, Central Oregon Community college, a high school, and not to mention a block away from the Edelrid North American distributor,” said Mulvaney and Breenan. Of course, finding a suitable building didn’t solve all their problems. “Navigating city requirements, the permitting process, financing, and the build itself were all challenging,” they continued. “We overcame those challenges by working together as partners, and being aware enough to ask for help when we needed it.”

Climbing walls at The Jug
There’s always a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes before a new gym opens. The climbing walls at The Jug, for instance, were built by the owners and other Redmond community members.

As the first tenants in their current building, the gym owners worked closely with the landlord on the build out of the space. “We designed the walls ourselves using a 3D model and had a structural engineer draw up diagrams for the build which then had to be approved by the city, landlord, and inspected by a third party,” they said. “Our landlord built out our tenant improvements which included a second bathroom and shower; the rest of the build was done by us, so we had the liberty of adjusting things as needed to fill the space and account for the flooring system.” The facility features 14-foot boulders, a campus board, hangboards, a Moon Board, and additional fitness equipment to help locals work toward their projects at Smith. The Jug also has a retail area with Red Chili shoes, ZIGZAG crash pads, consigned art, skin care products, and other climbing accessories.

The Jug fitness area
Besides the bouldering, The Jug offers various training-focused amenities, including a weightlifting area in the gym.

Currently, Mulvaney and Brennan are working with local schools to start climbing teams for the next school year and eventually competitions between schools, in addition to organizing summer camps. “We want to add more programs, such as summer camps [and] climbing teams, and create a space where parents can go climb while their children are in a safe space and learning how to do the same thing,” the owners said. And because their space is “fairly small for a rock gym,” they have already started a GoFundMe to raise funds for a dedicated youth climbing area in the gym. “We just are too new in our business to fund it ourselves,” they added.

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Walls: Owner/Contractor
Flooring: Cascade Specialty
CRM Software: RGP
Instagram: @TheJug RockGym

In Their Words: “We love seeing new climbers come in the gym, try our routes, and leave with a smile on their face. We also love seeing more experienced climbers get stumped on our problems and vow to send them the next time they come back…If you believe in your project, stick with it, and persevere until you send it!” – Jake Mulvaney and Philip Brennan, co-owners

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