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Climbing Gym Proposed for Mary Hall

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
January 11th, 2013

The Kootenay Climbing Association is negotiating with Selkirk College to create a climbing facility in part of the gym at Mary Hall on the Tenth Street Campus.

“We see it becoming part of a social hub for the community up there,” the association’s Scott Jeffery told The Nelson Daily. “We want to have a junior climbing team, kids camps, Pro-D day camps, special needs programming, school district winter activities, tie-ins with outdoor youth programs—a wide variety of programs to develop the sport of climbing.”

Jeffery says the connection with Selkirk students and facilities, the proximity to L.V. Rogers Secondary, and the availability of outdoor climbing behind the campus all make Mary Hall an ideal location.

The City of Nelson owns the Tenth Street Campus and leases it to Selkirk College. Any sub-leases must be approved by the City. The climbing association appeared before City Council on January 7 and got that approval in an enthusiastically unanimous vote.

Roped and bouldering areas for all skill levels

From the Kootenay Climbing Association’s business plan:

The climbing wall would provide both roped and bouldering areas. The roped climbing area would consist of 2,000 square feet of walls up to 23 feet high, sufficient for 15 separate routes. These routes would all be set up to allow both toproping from a fixed anchor at the top of the route, as well as lead climbing, which requires intermediate anchor points at regular intervals up the route. The bouldering area would consist of 1,000 square feet of bouldering.

A variety of angles from steep slabs to severely overhung would provide a range of climbing difficulty to suit all levels of climbers.

The facility would be located in one end of the Mary Hall Gym that has until recently been used for storage. To view an artist’s rendition of the planned structures, click here.

To view the association’s business plan, click on the attachment at the end of this article.

Fundraising is the priority

So far the association has discussed a sub-lease with Selkirk College, satisfied building code and fire requirements, conducted a structural engineering study, consulted with climbing wall designers, created a conceptual 3-D model of the project, drawn up a business plan, and raised $20,000 toward its $100,000 budget.

The group hopes to raise the remainder through grants, donations, and in-kind contributions soon, so that construction can occur in the summer for a fall opening.

“If we are to get this running by fall we have to hit the fundraising in the next 6 or 8 weeks,” said Jeffery. “It’s our big focus now.”

Better than the Civic Theatre building

The Kootenay Climbing Association was formed as a result of the closing, a year ago, of the Gravity climbing facility in Nelson. The group partnered with the Nelson Squash Club earlier this year and attempted unsuccessfully to secure space in the Civic Theatre building.

Jeffery thinks the Mary Hall option is far superior, because the renovations will be so much simpler and cheaper. “It’s also such a good fit with the Selkirk campus. We are able to complement the college’s existing programing and tie in with their infrastructure. It is a great fit.”

“…stopping me on the street to ask about the project.”

“The response we have got from City Council meeting and press has been amazing,” Jeffery says.  “I’ve had people phoning me and stopping me on the street to ask about the project, lots of interest, not from climbers so much, but from parents. Both climbers and parents are excited about this project.”

Indoor climbing: youth are “out-climbing the older guys”

“The sport of indoor climbing has grown and changed a lot over the last 20 years since I started climbing. It is really something that youth have really latched onto and excelled at, and as a result the level of climbing has elevated because kids are learning to climb in the gym and getting very strong at a young age, and definitely out-climbing all the old guys very quickly. So it is amazing to see what they can do when they spend some time in a good facility.”

City Council also voted on January 7 to allow the association to use its charitable tax status to help in fundraising.

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