New Missouri Gym Hopes to Make a Big Impact in Their Community

CoMo Rocks first set
Inside the new CoMo Rocks facility, the upcoming opening of which will be a light at the end of a five-year tunnel for co-owners Palmieri and McGee. (All images courtesy of CoMo Rocks)

CoMo Rocks
Columbia, MO

Specs: Columbia, Missouri’s newest climbing gym, CoMo Rocks, is getting ready to open its doors this spring. The mixed discipline facility will be co-owned and managed by Wil Palmieri and Dave McGee, both Columbia residents of ten years. The CoMo Rocks project has taken over five years to complete, the crux being finding a location that was “well-suited for a climbing space” in a “small business-centered town with low industrial-sized buildings,” according to Palmieri.

Columbia is stationed between St. Louis and Kansas City, both a 2-hour drive away, and currently only one other climbing gym (Bouldering Garden) serves the area. After traveling and seeing the benefits of climbing, and in thinking about the kind of town he’d want to raise a child and grow old in as he settled down, Palmieri teamed up with McGee to change that. “If I could bring something back here to Missouri and plug it in as my small little bit to add to the quality of life and add something positive to the world, it would be a climbing gym right here in Columbia, Missouri,” Palmieri said.

Digital Climbing Holds


Palmieri and McGee eventually signed a lease on a 9,400-square-foot facility that permitted both roped climbing and bouldering. In addition to 5,000 square feet of climbing, amenities will include a 12×12-foot Kilter Board, a Tension hangboard and minimal weights―since a Planet Fitness and three CrossFit gyms are located nearby. “We’re not going to compete with them…we’re not going to over promise what we can do,” said Palmieri, who added they want to “utilize the space most effectively.”

That vision includes programming, and providing programs that serve underrepresented populations especially. Como Rocks is working to develop youth programs that support youth with different socioeconomic backgrounds “that want to climb and learn new skills.” The gym is also partnering with Dr. Aaron Thompson, a professor and director at the nearby University of Missouri and a project leader at FACE (a local non-profit focused on “improving access to high-quality social, emotional and behavioral health services”) to raise funds for FACE’s Respite Care Program and become a host facility in the program. Adaptive programs are in the works as well. The gym’s climbing walls are being designed to allow for adaptive equipment, and McGee connected with a local adaptive sports group with whom he and Palmieri have already worked.

CoMo Rocks under construction
As Columbia’s second climbing gym, the owners hope CoMo Rocks will make a big impact in their community and are building the gym with youth, adaptive and service-oriented programs in mind.

Walls: EP Climbing
Flooring: UCS Spirit
CRM Software: Wellness Living
Instagram: @comorocks

In Their Words: “The CoMo Rocks mission is to empower individuals and elevate community. We seek to grow the climbing community by making the sport accessible and welcoming to people of all ages, races, genders and ability levels and to reduce the socioeconomic barriers in the sport of climbing.” – Wil Palmieri and Dave McGee, co-owners

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