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Josh M.

New Climbing Gym in Portland?? (Survey)

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If a new climbing gym was constructed in Southwest Portland/Beaverton that included:

 

Large climbing area with lead climbing and bouldering (with several natural crack features), a full training/Gym area including cardio equipment weights and rock climbing training (campus boards, rock rings, pull-up boards, etc.), and a full studio for yoga, pilates, and any other classes of public interest.

 

The gym would cater to all levels of climbers as well as families, and people who were just interested in a gym and classes without the 24 hour fitness/ LA fitness feel.

 

Let me know if you would??

- Get a full membership if cost was ~$65 a month. Access to everything including all classes.

- Get just a gym membership if cost was ~$45 a month. Access to everything but climbing (includes classes).

- Buy an occasional day pass ~$15.

- Stop by and check it out.

 

Let me know. Thanks!

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$65/mo is steap compared to the $49/mo PRG charges. Your other competition is Club Sport who quoted me $99/mo, to which I responded with a stunned 15 seconds of silence, hoping for a punchline.

 

Cracks: Most gym cracks suck. Either do them right, or not at all. PRG cracks mostly suck, and see very little traffic. Planet Granite in Sunnyvale (and I hear their new San Fransisco gym) did an excellent job on theirs. I hear they contracted it out, call and visit them before making yours (then try PRG's to see how not to do it).

 

Fitness: Most climber dudes want some gym gear, but a full 24 hour fitness will just dilute you and confuse your target audience. Could be wrong here. Too much of the 24 hour fitness crowd may annoy and alienate your climber crowd as well. Decide if you want to be a climbing gym with fitness stuff, or yet another gym with a climbing wall in the corner collecting dust.

 

Features: Natural feature like stem boxes, well done aretes, non-stupid chimneys, etc are worth the trouble to include. Too many gyms look good from afar, but get very repetitive due to lack of "3 dimensional" climbing. Just crimping at various levels of overhang can just suck after awhile.

 

Other: Consider putting in a couple aid climbing features. Most gyms do not allow any aid crap, so it would be a niche. I'm specifically suggesting a belayed fixed line to practice jugging, and a couple bolt ladders (vertical and overhanging). Such features would do wonders for those of us who want to dial in our systems for wall trips. Leading is not necessary, just a safe warm place to practice sequences with a TR belay.

 

Yoga: WTF? If you want to make money, open yet another Yoga hall. While their is overlap of interests, one gym to do it all will suck at everything. The area has lots of yoga crap, pilates crap, etc. There is however a lack of a good climbing gym on this side of town, concentrate on that.

Edited by Moof

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Planet Granite is $70 a month with a huge facility that boasts pretty much every extra you could imagine except a pool. We were down in the Bay Area this summer and every time climbing came up that place was mentioned even by folks who didn't climb. I spoke to them about their kids' Friday night climb/pizza program they have and was impressed by all they had to offer families.

 

If you were looking at something of Planet Granite scale and quality than I could see charging more than PRG's fee. But the Bay Area is typically more expensive on stuff so not sure if $65 a month would be too steep for PDXers given the other options that already exist around here, not to mention the current state of the economy.

 

Your daily fee is right there with Club Sport (though they do offer half-price sales on their punch passes) and a little more than the PRG weekend rate. I'd guess some of your targeted clientele probably already has a membership (annual contract) somewhere (CS, PRG, Stoneworks or Circuit) which means you'd need to have a very affordable daily fee to get them in to see what you offer so they'd want to move over when their contract expires or maybe a promo such as show us your (insert climbing gym name here) card and climb for $5 today.

 

One question I have for you is why that area? There is already Stoneworks in Beaverton, The Circuit in SW and CS in Tigard. PRG is in Central PDX. Why not move more North and/or East to an unserved area? You'd also get more people from across the river.

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Hm, yeah - ditto the above people saying that the price sounds steep.

And yes, adding in a full fitness gym or yoga stuff would make it less appealing as a climbing gym.

 

You say classes are included in your price, but if you're looking to get opinions of experienced climbers, they're not gonna care about classes. If you want to go the "full fitness gym" route with the rock wall collecting dust in the corner, then sure, offer climbing classes to your members - just don't let someone incompetent teach them. The last thing we need is more people at the crags getting in trouble because they got a 2-hour class at their gym.

 

But, I live in Beaverton area, I would probably stop by occasionally for a day pass if the location was close & convenient enough for me. I'm lazy and have limited time, so I'll go wherever is closest.

But for regular attendance, I wouldn't give up the $25/mo my annual costs me at SW.

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Just to add, SW has room for a good climbing gym. Club Sport is expensive enough that I've never set foot in it. Stoneworks has a nice vibe, but is small and useless for anything but bouldering. Never been to the circuit, as I can only stand douldering sessions every so often. So I commute all the fricking way to PRG, and not often enough to make my membership useful.

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- Get a full membership if cost was ~$65 a month. Access to everything including all classes.

- Get just a gym membership if cost was ~$45 a month. Access to everything but climbing (includes classes).

So can I get a membership of climbing only for $20 a month ;) ? Sorry man, $65 is just way too high for my taste. If you could offer a climbing membership for under $40 I'd look at it.

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I'd plug for another gym on the east side. I know a lot of people who come down from NoPo and the Couv for PRG. Which side of the river is huge for me, and I would put props to rmncwntr above that the eastside is the underserved area. I actually don't mind PRG that much, but the lack of natural features and 3D climbing (chimneys, aretes, arches) is a little lacking.

 

Supporting a few aid lines would be super sweet- exactly, warm and dry place to practice systems.

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It seems like the punch pass idea is nice for me, I don’t like climbing indoors in teh summer months and I have a crazy work schedule and thus use a gym on a very random basis.

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If a new climbing gym was constructed in Southwest Portland/Beaverton that included:

 

I might visit it once. I live in the couv and the PRG has a decent location. I try not to drive to Beaverton unless I have too.

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Include a dry tooling area.

 

Second that.

 

Also, yoga is something that everyone can do at home.

 

I would personally like to see a climbing gym that is meant for training. It seems too many gyms cater to the social scene aspect and pulling on plastic for the sake of, well, pulling on plastic. I think a climbing gym should be a staging area to efficiently and safely prepare for our outdoor adventures. An aid section and drytooling area play into this idea.

 

It would be nice to see a gym area with an emphasis on equipment and workouts specific to climbing. Get some training staff focused on coaching those willing to work hard and see results in better climbing and ill be there everyday that i am not outside. I would pay a premium to access a facility that had a training atmosphere rather than a social club feel and i am fucking broke!

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i'll throw in another vote for either east side (close to 205) or (even better) up north here in vancouver!! But even then, 65 a month is outta my league!

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I would personally like to see a climbing gym that is meant for training. It seems too many gyms cater to the social scene aspect and pulling on plastic for the sake of, well, pulling on plastic. I think a climbing gym should be a staging area to efficiently and safely prepare for our outdoor adventures. An aid section and drytooling area play into this idea.

 

I've never been to PRG, so I don't know how it is there, but the "social" scene is pretty much what keeps climbing gyms open. It's kind of a bummer, especially when that means you have bratty kids running under your feet. But climbing gyms are expensive to build and maintain, and I've never been to one that was populated exclusively by a crew of hardcore regulars. Definitely some have a good crowd, but it's the kids' birthday parties on weekends that keep the gyms in business...

 

That said, if you can figure out a way to open a harcore-only gym that does not cost an arm and a leg, I would be all for it. However, I suspect those two operate inversely: the more yuppies and children come to the gym, the cheaper membership can be. No gym would make ends meet only serving hardcore dirtbags...

 

Anyway, my two cents: I live in southeast, and would certainly not go out to Beaverton or even far SW for a gym. I climb at the Circuit (ack! a boulderer! run while you still can, guys) and have never been to PRG, even though I would enjoy putting a harness on from time to time, because it's too expensive to go to both. I think what other people have said about making sure you have good wall designs, textures, and features is super important. Gyms started out as plywood with holds, progressed to super molded Enterprises system walls, and have now somehow devolved back into flat, shapeless, featureless junk. Good aretes, stemming corners, and texture you can actually smear on are pretty key.

 

Also ditto about the $20 climbing only membership! I think the combined fitness center-climbing gym bit is kind of overplayed (think Chelsea Piers in NYC as the worst example). Most serious climbers only need a minimum of weights/cross training facilities. Same for classes and yoga.

 

I guess figure out who your target market would be - serious climbers or the fitness folks?

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I think it's very important to include a wide variety of "natural" crack features, with two purposes in mind. First, crack climbing tends to be pretty neglected at most gyms, but it is an essential skill for serious outdoor/trad climbers. Few peaks, if any, consist of face climbing exclusively. Bouldering, sport climbing and gym climbing seem to have produced a generation of superb face/hueco/smear/crimp/balance climbers who nonetheless whine about "offwidth cracks" in the pages of Rock and Ice.

 

People, there ARE no offwidth cracks; there are simply cracks, of all sizes and shapes and textures, and if you're going to be a complete and versatile climber/alpinist, you have to be able to climb them all if that's what the climb presents you with. Everything from thin, bottoming finger cracks to big chimneys. Yes, I'm Old School on this--Yosemite-style was the standard when I was learning to climb, and we relished the chance to challenge all manner and sizes of cracks. Stemming, arm and leg bars, squirming and "thrutching" in barndoor dihedrals and outward leaning cracks that want to spit you out, it's all part of climbing on real features. Anyway, it'd be nice to see more attention paid to this aspect of rock climbing skills. And it would greatly benefit learning climbers who are interested in trad.

 

The second reason for including a wide variety of crack features would be to provide an indoor/wintertime area where climbers could learn and practice placing and climbing on protection, instead of just clipping bolts all the time. I'm not familiar with the technical and legal/liability problems that might be presented here, but I can guess that there might be issues regarding the durability of the artificial cracks under the repeated pressure of cams, stoppers and wires of all sizes, especially in holding falls, and just where the lines would be concerning the responsibility of the gym, or the climber/customer. But with the amazing variety of materials for creating lifelike and durable rock faces and textures, I think it would be worth a try. Various concrete/polymer/epoxy mixes can actually be as good as, and tougher, than actual rock. And, of course, there's always the option of using actual rock and mortar, like Schurman Rock in West Seattle, just taking it indoors.

 

I think the gym that had these features would tend to attract a wider range of climbers, in particular a little older and more financially able customer who would love to have a place to come when it's pouring outside, to train and practice trad skills, to stay in shape and tune up over the winter for big mountain summer adventures. I also heartily second the suggestions of those above for drytooling features.

 

In short, it just seems to me that the more you can offer, the broader your client base will be, the more of a service your gym would be to the climbing community, and the better it will be for your bottom line over the long haul.

 

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I'm not familiar with the technical and legal/liability problems that might be presented here, but I can guess that there might be issues regarding the durability of the artificial cracks under the repeated pressure of cams, stoppers and wires of all sizes, especially in holding falls, and just where the lines would be concerning the responsibility of the gym, or the climber/customer.

 

I think there's pretty much zero chance of being able to place gear on an indoor crack, disregarding the durability of the wall surface, just simply based on liability. It's not like they have you place your draws on lead, you know? And placing gear is to placing draws the way clipping bolts is to toproping... or something. Indoor cracks will either be bolted or toprope.

 

I should think that current wall technology should be able to produce pretty decent indoor cracks nowadays though. Much better than the shit parallel ones in gyms of yore.

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You're probably right, although I guess one alternative might be to have people sign waivers such as we already do to climb at Carver Bridge Cliff, and as will be required at Madrone if they EVER, in our lifetimes, get over noodling around in red tape and actually get the place opened up again. Perhaps they do this at some climbing gyms also? Shows you how much time I've spent on plastic, which is to say, not much.

 

I'd have to disagree, though, with any suggestion that clipping bolts or pre-hung draws in any way approximates the experience of placing and climbing on pro on lead. Sport and gym climbing require some forethought and sequencing, but the holds are the holds, the bolts are the bolts, there's little creativity demanded. Totally different animal. Just the physical difference in trying to stay on your stance while selecting and placing the right size cam, nut,etc. is far more sustained in trad than sport climbing, until you get to the very upper ratings of difficulty. Let alone the fact that you can protect a trad climb in so many different combinations. Plus, the second then has to clean the pitch, re-rack the gear, and leapfrog the next lead.

 

During my learning years it was still pretty much all pitons, a lot of work for both leader and second, beside the sheer weight of all that iron. Compared to that, my first sport climbing experience (outdoors) was really laughable, I was just giggling like a schoolgirl at how much easier and simpler it was, and how much higher of a rating you could climb to. But it wasn't by any means the same. To me there is still nothing like trad that gives you the feeling of having really accomplished something pretty hard to do, of having done "the real thing". Just mho.

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I'd want a $45/month max just-climbing pass, and the location would have to be accessible from SE. I'm a whore for the circuit, so you'd have to offer roped climbing at a price that beats the PRG and at least matches the circuit.

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Sorry, I admit I don't really know if that's going to happen. I think I meant to say "probably" or "likely", and for two reasons. One, because it will be a Clackamas County Park; and two,because one of their main arguments in the past against allowing climbing there at all, was liability. Granted, that may have been just an excuse at the time, because powerful interests behind the scenes were pulling every string they could to log and quarry it, which didn't become public until later. But as I recall, the initial excuse offered for closing it was liability.

 

The real reason for closing it was that someone, just exactly who, I'm not sure, was seeing giant dollar signs, during the early runup in the housing bubble several years ago. And it's been my experience that anytime things happen as they have regarding the closure of Madrone Wall, you can almost be certain that someone stands to make a hell of a lot of money somewhere, or at least they THINK they do. It may be that the recession will be what really saves Madrone Wall in the end. And this is by no means to downplay or minimize the Herculean, heroic efforts of all those who have labored so long and hard to save it as a climbing area. One of the early small victories was the geological survey which determined that the rock, and the area, was utterly unsuitable for a quarry. But developers and land exploiters give up their ideas and desires very, very grudgingly. There is still going to be some logging on the property up above. Greed, like gravity, never sleeps.

 

At any rate, with all the foot-dragging on the part of Clackamas county commissioners over this whole episode (almost TEN years now!) waivers is an item which may be either dead, or just playing possum, and I do think it warrants watching. The whole process has been absolutely maddening, two steps forward, one or more steps back. Just when it would seem everything was a go, something else would be trotted out to gum up the works. And thanks for asking, I should have been clearer.

Edited by Mtguide

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I thought the reason for Carver's waivers was the fact that the crag is on private property and the owner (a lawyer!) didn't want to deal with dumb-ass climbers dying on his lot.

 

 

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For Carver, yes, that is true. Makes sense if you're a private owner. Not too far fetched that someone might sue you if their kid, spouse, etc., died climbing on your property. Hell, you could be sued for anything that happens to someone while on your property. If someone tripped over a root or a pebble hiking up to the crag and broke a tooth or sprained their ankle, you can get sued. Being a lawyer, I'm sure that guy has seen it all.

 

People will sue for anything, no matter how ridiculous. A bad hair cut, the hot coffee at MacDonald's, etc. So, waivers are the answer. This is why I'm thinking that waivers are a possibility whenever Madrone opens. Municipalities get sued all the time, at the drop of a hat; people will try to get money from where ever they think there's some to be found. My guess is, they (Clackamas county)will want to protect themselves.

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I'd have to disagree, though, with any suggestion that clipping bolts or pre-hung draws in any way approximates the experience of placing and climbing on pro on lead.

 

Sorry, I wasn't trying to imply that - I meant it metaphorically, as an example of how increased participant responsibility = greater liability risk. In other words, if toproping is the hardest thing to screw up, and they already don't let us place our own draws, then it seems exceedingly unlikely that they would let us place our own gear (being the most difficult/requiring the most skill).

 

I used to work in a climbing gym, and like half the people in gyms already can't belay on toprope. (Which is not surprising considering they're left to their own devices with a GriGri after a mere five minutes of instruction.) I cannot even estimate the number of people I saw reflexively let go with their brake hand when they or their climber became frustrated! We do not need those people anywhere near placing their own gear...

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