Vertical Endeavors to expand to Prospect Park

The new facility, not yet built, sheds light on climbing’s trend toward accessibility

Hussuain Sajjad climbs the new boulder route on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 at the University Recreation and Wellness Center Climbing Gym. The Minnesota Climb Team hosted their second annual Crush O' Lantern competition there.

Easton Green

Hussuain Sajjad climbs the new boulder route on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 at the University Recreation and Wellness Center Climbing Gym. The Minnesota Climb Team hosted their second annual Crush O’ Lantern competition there.

Jacob Steinberg

Vertical Endeavors, a climbing gym chain, has chosen a Prospect Park warehouse as the site of its first ever bouldering gym.

The new gym will give University of Minnesota student-climbers an opportunity to practice their sport close to campus.

Vertical Endeavors President Nate Postma said the company chose Prospect Park for the gym because “that’s kind of the trendy place to be.”

Changing tastes in the climbing community influenced the choice to open a bouldering gym instead of a full-scale climbing gym, Postma said.

“It seems to be what people want,” he said. “I used to be an avid climber … I really had my finger on the pulse of that side of the industry. This side is kind of growing around me because I’m not a boulderer.”

Bouldering’s appeal is largely due to the fact that it’s more accessible than traditional climbing, said journalism sophomore and former climbing team member Cooper Silburn. Bouldering doesn’t require ropes and gear like other forms of climbing.

“It’s far less intimidating,” Silburn said. “It’s less time-consuming than roped climbing is.”

Product design sophomore and climbing team officer Jessica Arnold said bouldering also has a “social aspect” that makes it easier to meet people.

Most student-climbers currently practice at the Recreation and Wellness Center, and for many, the new gym is a chance to branch out from their routine.

“I’m really excited for … having more options [and] being able to meet people outside of the U community because climbing is such a community sport,” said ecology, evolution and behavior junior and climbing team member Carolyn Kalinowski.

Kalinowski said a large part of the appeal of going to gyms is the ability to meet new people and see how they climb.

Arnold said the climbing community in the Twin Cities is bigger than one might expect, especially for a Midwestern city.

Postma said he’s aiming to draw youthful as well as older climbers to this new gym.

“I think that they haven’t really tapped into the college community yet at Vertical Endeavors. That’s where a lot of rock climbers are coming from,” said Silburn.

He said a warehouse would provide ample space for a bouldering gym, a necessary component that traditional retail space generally doesn’t offer. Postma didn’t give the address of the possible new location.

While the new gym hasn’t been built yet, Vertical Endeavors has plans for further expansion. Two more bouldering gyms are planned for Northeast Minneapolis and the North Loop, he said.

Climbing is a sport that’s growing in popularity, but Postma said they have to be careful not to saturate the market. “There’s room for a bouldering gym, but not quite another climbing gym yet.”