This Saturday, December 7th USA Climbing’s ABS Regional Championships are happening simultaneously at fifteen gyms around the country. ABS Regionals is the first obstacle for competitive climbers and their teams to get through if they want to make it to Divisionals in January, and hopefully to the National Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado in February.
The American Bouldering Series is in its 16th year and is the country’s only youth (up to 18 years old) bouldering competition circuit. To compete at a Regional Championship a youth climber must have competed in at least two ABS sanctioned local events. But championships events are a bit different than your average local comp. Regionals is an on-sight format, which means that the climbers do not see the problems until they have to compete. They also do not know how well the other competitors have done throughout the round. Once it is the climber’s turn they have five minutes to evaluate and send the problem, after which they have a five minute rest until their next problem. This is the most fair way to run a comp but produces a high pressure scenario for the athletes. This year USAC has stipulated the format will be one round with 6 problems.
Hosting regionals can sometimes feel like a carnival has come to town, complete with crowds, vendors and spectacle. Local and national climbing reps will be showing off their gear along while sports companies hand out samples and food trucks feed the climbers and spectators. Each of these comps will bring in approximately 150 climbers along with proud parents and curious gym members. All of this means that hosting a championship event can mean a nice boost in exposure, reputation and possibly revenue for the host gym.
Good luck to all the competitors and host facilities this weekend!
Washington / Alaska
Climb Tacoma – Tacoma, Washington
Rogue Rock Gym – Medford, Oregon
City Beach – Fremont, California
Mesa Rim – San Diego, California
Ogden Front – Ogden, UT
ABC Kids Climbing – Boulder, Colorado
Vertical Endeavors – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Ohio River Valley
Planet Rock – Anne Arbor, Michigan
Triangle Rock Club North – Raleigh, North Carolina
Summit – Dallas, Texas
Stone Moves – Houston, Texas
The Edge – Jacksonville, Florida
Philadelphia Rock Gym – Valley Township, Pennsylvania
Many gyms claim to be the biggest in the nation, state or region. But there hasn’t been a way to verify their claims or see how new gyms stack up agains the rest, until now! Here is the official and definitive list of the top ten largest climbing gyms in America.
So how did we do it? First, we asked what constitutes the “biggest”. Some gyms advertise their square feet of climbing so that’s the first place we looked. But many gyms also advertise the size of their building. So we put it our readers; the results of our informal survey showed that 95% of people thought that the size of the climbing wall (square feet of climbing surface) was the way to go. We agree and so that’s the metric we used to rank the gyms.
We did not just take the gyms word for it, so when we could we sought out the official size of the climbing wall by going straight to the source, the wall manufacturer.
This project would not have been possible without the help of Jon Lachelt! Thanks also to Walltopia, Entre Prises and Nicros for their support in helping us get to the top of the biggest gyms in America!
The Climbing Business Journal presents the first annual Grip List.
This year we experienced an unprecedented amount of new hold companies bursting upon the scene, established companies expanding their lines and old brands coming out of retirement. A quick scan through the popular Routesetters Anonymous Facebook page will dizzy you with the number of new brands. But what holds are routesetters actually psyched about? What are they buying or would buy if they had the money? What are the most exciting hold companies right now?
We decided to find out. First, we talked with pro-setters, head setters, national setters and any setter that was so psyched about a company they emailed us to to rave about its virtues. Next, we put a call out to setters across the country to tell us what hold companies they are excited about, what they’re buying and which brands look like they have the best shot at making it in the rough and tumble world of grip making. Lastly, we went into gyms and actually got our hands wrapped around some of the holds to get a sense for how they felt.
What emerged is a list of America’s hottest holds for 2014. These are the brands that are rocking the world of indoor climbing and are giving setters sweaty palms. Check it out:
Boston-based MetroRock Climbing Centers is expanding into Vermont with a planned $1.5 million facility near Burlington. The new gym, which is expected to open early in the summer of 2014 will have 16,000 square feet of Walltopia built climbing wall; 11,500 sqft of 50-foot tall roped terrain and 4,500 sq ft of bouldering which will top out at 16 feet. MetroRock VT will also have a challenge course on site.
The Burlington area is currently served by two private climbing walls and Petra Cliffs, a commercial climbing gym facility. The city of Essex sits just 5 miles to the east of downtown Burlington and offers great access to the University of Vermont’s large student population. Pat Enright, owner of MetroRock says, “The greater Burlington area has 6 universities and over 25,000 undergrads. The area supports over half of the entire state population.” In fact the new gym will be located right next St. Michel’s College and 2 miles off of I-89.
When looking to move to Vermont Enright and his team looked at the more than 200,000 people residing in the metro area and determined, “After a closer look one finds that there is a nice population density in and around the Burlington area and a favorable population demographic,” said Enright. He goes on to say, “What is hard to effectively quantify but has a positive impact in our industry is that there is a large itinerant/vacation/traveler element to the area. Lastly, we considered the types of activity options that were available to the general population and found that there was a dearth of alternatives. After careful consideration and much analysis we concluded that the area could support a modern climbing facility.”
Perhaps due to the historic nature of Burlington, and Vermont in general, Enright has had the most difficulty with getting through the red tape of the permitting process. Enright says, “We started our efforts in the summer of 2012. What we discovered is that Vermont, while publicly supporting development, has created state and local bureaucratic agencies that hamper or depress development. Ultimately, it took us a year to get through the entire process. One cannot overestimate the value of determination!”
The new MetroRock climbing center will mark only the second commercial climbing gym in the entire state of Vermont.