"Climbers come in and meet a random stranger next to them with the same bouldering problem or same route and start talking and next thing you know, they're climbing outside together or getting a beer at the pub after climbing or just meeting at CityRock on a regular basis."
This is how Tony, director of operations, describes the approachable and friendly atmosphere of CityRock, the largest climbing facility in Colorado Springs. Since it opened its doors six years ago, CityRock has prided itself on its inclusivity, being the window for anyone to become a rock climber. The climbing gym offers classes for kids as young as four as well as adult classes for all skill levels.
The climbing facility was once a movie theater called The Ute, which closed in 1991. It was then repurposed as an antique store before finally becoming CityRock. But the spirit of the original cinema is still alive and well.
Several of CityRock's walls feature painted homages to classic films such as King Kong and Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. But instead of seeing matinees, you'll now see 43-foot walls, 15,000-plus square feet of roped climbing including overhangs, cracks and slabs, as well as 3,500 square feet of bouldering surface. Where the concessions booth once stood, there is now the Ute & Yeti, a casual café and pub where climbers can hang out post-climb and enjoy a drink or snack from its health-forward menu. The Ute & Yeti supports Colorado businesses too, as 90 percent of its craft beers are Colorado-sourced, and the coffee beans come from the locally owned Mission Coffee Roasters.
"They're always changing the beers on tap and reinventing their menu, so there's a constant change going to make sure the product is good," says Tony.
CityRock also has a unique climbing experience called The Cave – 225 feet of passages filled with artificial cave formations, artifacts and cave life. As visitors crawl through and explore, sensors detect their movements and beep when they bump into or get too close to cave formations. The Cave teaches climbers about wild caving and cave conservation too.
Speaking of conservation, CityRock recently installed new, high-efficiency lighting throughout the facility and has plans to replace their current industrial ceiling fans with ones that better regulate the temperature.
"At the top of our walls, at 43 feet, usually it's sweltering because all the heat rises and then when you get down it's quite cold, so these fans will help with that," says Tony.
Since remaking it into CityRock, the owners have also increased insulation and replaced the old heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. These energy-efficient decisions have not only attracted more customers to CityRock's comfortable climbing environment but have saved the business money on their utilities bill too.
CityRock also involves itself in the community by promoting local nonprofits like the Pikes Peak Climbers Alliance and the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership. For five years, CityRock has also worked with UpaDowna, a local nonprofit whose mission is to provide access to outdoor adventures for all through events and programs that empower individuals, create healthier communities and foster a respect for the environment. Once a month, CityRock hosts Adventure On Tap, an UpaDowna-sponsored event where speakers talk about their outdoor passion to a group.
As Tony puts it, "I definitely feel like if a business is successful, it should be giving back to the community because the community is what grew the business to begin with."
It's not surprising that CityRock has had its share of success given its continuing commitment to creating a warm and joyful gathering place for rock climbers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. A place where changing the current means more and more people coming together.
CityRock is changing the current and you can too. Take our pledge on the home page and learn more about CityRock at climbcityrock.com.
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