Squamish Co-Op On The Edge

Trying out the Moon Board at the Grand Wall Co-Op. Photo: Grand Wall

The original climbing gym in Squamish, BC is on the verge of closing shop if they don’t raise enough money to cover their rent. The Grand Wall climbing co-op, which opened in 2008, is facing the very modern problem of competition from a newer, larger full-service climbing facility.

“We need roughly $20,000 to secure the coming year and we raised about a tenth of that,” Thomasina Pidgeon, who’s part of the board of directors for the co-op, told the Squamishchief.com. “Not ideal, but the amount raised amounts to 4.5 new annual memberships and every membership counts.” Memberships are $400 per year. Pidgeon said that the Grand Wall now has until December to see if it’ll survive in its current form.

“It’s hard to compete with shiny, colorful new walls that offer routes, bouldering, and milky cappuccinos,” Pidgeon wrote on Mountainlifemedia.ca. Just like the fact that not everyone fits into the mold of the typical commercial climbing gym environment, not everyone feels comfortable in the sometimes-called, dark dungeon of the Grandwall Bouldering Cooperative.”

“Despite its appeal and affordability, the Coop’s member base has dropped significantly due to a new commercial climbing gym in town meaning staying open next year is currently NOT an option unless things change quickly. But the difficulties have inspired ideas for improvement… Things once frowned upon, like route-setting, are now the norm. An old rule of needing two years climbing experience was banished, thus welcoming beginners and children alike. It opened its doors to dry toolers and training clinics, while modern training equipment such as an LED MoonBoard were installed and the campus board upgraded. While the improvements have helped boost memberships, it still isn’t enough.”

With less members, the organization has run into challenges when trying to pay the rent, which is its number one expense.

There are no staffing costs, as volunteers run everything.

“Sadly with the increasing cost of rent in Squamish, finding a place more affordable may prove challenging,” Pidgeon added. “We would much rather stay put as we know a potential move will cost us something.”