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Chalk time: Revelstoke rock climbing gym opens in the New Year

Quartzite Climbing Gym LTD has overcome significant hurdles to come to reality
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Leah Poirier and Patrick O’Neill stand in front of the ongoing construction of Quartzite Climbing LTD. (Contributed)

As Revelstokians eye the snow that’s making its way further down the mountain, many will have already swapped their summer gear for winter.

But climbers may want to hold off on putting their climbing shoes and chalk away because a new rock-climbing gym is set to open in the new year.

For those who are part of – and those who have followed – the climbing community in Revelstoke, the rumours are true. A new rock-climbing gym will be opening in Revelstoke early next year.

Quartzite Climbing Gym LTD. have been teasing the community for a few weeks now as it puts the final touches on the gym.

Leah Poirier and Patrick O’Neill are the masterminds behind the bouldering gym, and their message to the climbers is simple.

“It’s for real,” said Poirier with a laugh.

Climbers have been eagerly awaiting the opening of a climbing gym in Revelstoke for more than a decade, according to O’Neill.

Several attempts have been made over the years to try to get one started, but nothing ever came to fruition.

Poirier and O’Neill – both climbers in their own right – started planning Quartzite several years ago. They created the business plan and were eager to get started but ran into an issue: location.

“It’s tough to find a spot that that checks all the boxes,” said O’Neill.

The location of the gym needed to be an open warehouse space, have lots of parking, and fit within the proper zoning for commercial use all while the city undergoes a comprehensive zoning bylaw review.

Ultimately, there was no perfect spot that ticked all the boxes, so they had to get creative.

The two settled in a space in the Big Eddy behind Ed’s Gas Club. They took over a portion of a warehouse, expanded it, and have done the renovations themselves with the help of family and friends.

Part of the climbing structure was pre-engineered by OnSite Climbing from Quebec.

O’Neill and Poirier said most of the route-setting and operations will be done in-house.

Having worked on the project for a few years, O’Neill said it was easy to get discouraged sometimes as locations would crop up, but not work out.

“We both sometimes are in awe like, oh my goodness, we got this far,” said Poirier.

Finally able to see the end in sight, Poirier – who is a board member with the Climbers Access Society – pointed to the community as a source of motivation for her and O’Neill and a big part of what kept them going.

The climbing community has already shown its support of the gym before it has even opened. As Poirier and O’Neill have shared teasers on social media, they’ve already racked up more than 500 followers on Instagram.

“To see how many people were excited it was pretty overwhelming,” said O’Neill. “It was a good feeling for sure.”

The space is 2,500 square-feet, which will create roughly 1,100 square-feet of climbing, according to O’Neill.

The two offer a final message to climbers ahead of their new year opening.

“We’re 100 per cent dedicated to seeing this through. We’re super excited to get to grow the community, and keep your eyes peeled for progress updates, because we’ll keep pumping them out,” said O’Neill.

To follow along with the progress of the gym, follow Quartzite Climbing Gym LTD on Instagram for the latest updates.

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Zach Delaney

About the Author: Zach Delaney

I came to the Revelstoke Review from Ottawa, Ontario, where I earned a Master of Journalism degree from Carleton University.
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