What Prescott lacks: a climbing gym

By Libby Sherwood

Flagstaff has one. Phoenix has several. Cities all across the country benefit from them. Despite Prescott’s large population of climbers, our town still lacks a climbing gym.

Prescott is home to hundreds of climbers. Although the town boasts some of the best crack-climbing in Arizona, it lacks the training ground that many use to build strength and endurance for their outdoor endeavors.

In 2008, I volunteered as a route-setter at the small climbing wall at the YMCA that was built by the CEO’s daughter, a climbing enthusiast herself. One day, I arrived to strength-train to find the whole facility disassembled. They would not even allow me to retrieve the holds that I had purchased. My personal investment of time and money meant nothing. The YMCA board had already voted to put the money elsewhere.

Even non-climbers may benefit from a local climbing gym. Gyms are a perfect place to host birthday parties or bring a friend to try something new. I have seen people on their first dates at the gym or showing their friends “the ropes.”

Prescott resident Amylee Thornhill grew up climbing at a gym in Montana; she described the experience as, “Super social. The camaraderie is great, the competition is fierce and it’s so fun. It’s a great workout and it’s great for your self-esteem.”

Climbing programs for kids can provide a physical and emotional outlet and motivate young people to be active. Kids who never excelled in team sports have an opportunity to find something new in climbing.

I met one teenager training at a climbing gym in Ridgeway, Colorado, who commented that if he had not found climbing at a crucial point in his life, he would have been far more inclined to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

An indoor gym also provides a great learning environment. “When you live in a town where climbing is easily accessible and it’s a cool thing to do, people don’t know to build anchors, they don’t know how to lead properly, and that’s when accidents happen,” said Thornhill.

“In a gym, you don’t climb until you learn how to tie the knots and [pass] a test…. Gyms have super-strict requirements on safety and people are naturally going to take that outside. The gym can be an amazing gateway to the outdoor climbing world.”

Experienced climbers in Prescott are searching for a training-ground close to home. Attracting such a wide range of people, a gym could serve as a social hub, blending Prescott’s energetic youth with its long-time local color and its transient travelers alike.

One Response to “What Prescott lacks: a climbing gym”
  1. jared says:

    Do you know the start up cost of a climbing gym or where to find more data?

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