For the longest time, “dirtbags” (coined by climbers- specifically climbers venturing to steep walls whilst being half homeless and living out of their vans) in the Western slope have flocked to areas such as Unaweep Canyon, 9 Mile and Dynamite Shacks to explore and advance their climbing, as well as to push their limits.
In 2014, the climbing community had expanded with the introduction of the new gym, Grand Valley Climbing. At this venue, climbers were able to practice technical moves, gain bouldering or sport climbing experience and prepare for the next season of outdoor climbing. This was all the valley had known for a period of time, that is, until Grip, a new bouldering gym, recently opened in February 2022.
Natasha Lynn, reporter for NBC11 news reported that “The gym has 2,200 feet of different walls for beginners and advanced climbers, as well as lessons for all ages and ability levels. They have varying memberships, even a type for access 24 hours a day. Their goal is to provide a safe space for beginners to learn to climb.”
This new bouldering facility offers not only a bouldering section but a lattice board and other helpful training equipment. They also offer a selection of classes for climbers of all skill levels and fitness cross training classes. These classes include “Intro to Bouldering” (offered Monday nights from 7:00-8:00pm), “Intermediate Bouldering” (4 week class offered Wednesday nights from 7:00-8:00pm), “GripFit” (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00-8:00pm), “Sunday Morning Yoga” (Sunday mornings at 8:45am), and Lattice Assessments.
“Intro to Bouldering” was created to help climbers gain the basics to enhance their climbing movements. “Intermediate Bouldering” is an in-depth class during which your instructor will provide individual feedback on your climbing technique to help you reach your training and climbing goals. “GripFit” is a strength conditioning circuit class designed to improve core, cardio, and overall fitness, centered around protective exercises to keep your body healthy and climbing longer. “Sunday Morning Yoga” is a restorative yin practice to help promote stability, flexibility, and mobility. Lattice Assessments are an evaluation that identifies an individual’s strengths and weaknesses in mobility, flexibility, finger strength, endurance and power. This gives members insight on ways to improve their climbing and create a pathway to improve their climbing and reach their goals. They have provided a program which allows climbers who only climb in gyms, to begin to transition to the crag.
The bouldering section has a variety of routes graded from V0 (being the easiest route) and up. In order to find the grade of the route, you have to locate the initial starting hold and find what color sticker it’s attached to, then you look at a poster near the entryway to determine the grade of the route.
According to Grip’s newsletter, “We are now starting our regular setting schedule, with a section of the wall being reset each Sunday night and additional problems being filled in each Wednesday morning.” Setting new problems weekly allows for people to practice different techniques and moves, it also keeps customers interested in the different routes, instead of being bored with old consistent routes. However, if you were to be projecting a route then you may only have one week to complete it before a new route is set.
Although seemingly small at first, the building has a wide variety of routes fit for all climbing experiences and styles. The workers are helpful, offering an orientation of the gym and making sure to show climbers around the facility. Grip’s pricing is close to $15 for a day pass and they offer student discounts.
“I enjoyed their routes and the variety of grades. I also liked the overhang section as well as slabby-like section, I felt that it allowed for a bit of variety when it came to different climbing techniques and styles. I didn’t like how open the gym was, it made me feel like everyone was watching and potentially judging me. If you looked to your left and right you may be shoulder to shoulder with another person. Beginner climbers may be a bit uncomfortable with this situation,” said Seth Mays, avid climber and senior, when asked about his opinion on Grip.
Grip welcomes climbers of all ages and experiences; however, a large proportion of the customers are late high school students to college-aged. Grip is a great way to meet people who share similar interests as you. Outdoors bouldering is prevalent in the Grand Valley, but it is not safe to venture out on the crag alone. Grip is an amazing way to meet other climbers willing to climb with you.
Compared to other climbing gyms, Grip has a great variety of amazing routes, fit to push climbers out of their comfort zone. Beginners may find this to be a challenging environment as you are surrounded by people who seem to be watching you climb. Although it would be great if it were to be expanded to fit larger groups of people, this gym is a great start.