SteepWorld, the bouldering gym that allowed me to fall in love with climbing and find my passion in life, is closing tomorrow. Today, I’m taking my GoPro Hero 6 Black camera over there to record some “history” – my own. I took my first rope climbing lesson from Michelle there, using the yellow Slab wall. I learned to set routes at that gym, too. My first was a green V4 on the Right Beefcake wall that I named, “Creature From The Black Lagoon”. I sent a V1+ that ended on the bar – the first time I had made it to the bar in all the time I’ve climbed there – about five weeks ago. I just sent my first V2 on 27 September on the yellow Tower wall with the access door that locks and unlocks with a 5/16″ hex T-wrench. I washed holds in the back room with the vinegar bath and the power washer in four-hour shifts to earn extra time toward my membership around competition times. The day after tomorrow – Sunday – all that will be gone (or be in the process of being dismantled and hauled away by various buyers). The walls are going to Great Falls. Those walls came to SteepWorld in Billings from the old climbing gym in Bozeman, so they’re making the rounds in Montana, which is fun to see. I wonder where they’ll end up next, haha!
There is a sadness that comes with seeing the old place go, and a fear that comes with the excitement of a new gym, too. What I will miss most about the old climbing gym is the character of the climbing community that the owner has fostered and maintained there – welcoming, fun, and passionate about climbing and including others. All three partners in the new gym owners’ circle agree that that’s the kind of character they want to have and maintain in the climbing community at the new gym as well. It will be a challenge with more people, but I think it’s doable, and I would be truly disappointed if that wasn’t their goal. Fortunately, I have worked with and been around all three of the partners enough to know that they are going to make it a priority at this new climbing gym to foster that kind of community amongst the membership, which makes me happy. The character of the climbing gym now comes from the character of the membership – the climbers themselves and the environment. That’s what will be the most important to preserve and take forward into the future. That’s something to be excited about!!! So, as I deal with a fair degree of mixed feelings, I can continue to be stoked about route setting at the new gym (setting tomorrow and Sunday on brand new WallTopia walls again, with brand new holds) and to a whole new world of possibilities as we make this transition in Billings, Montana.