April 1, 2014. In an interesting decision which may revolutionize the way climbing gyms are structured, Peak Experiences Indoor Climbing Center in Richmond, Virginia, announced Tuesday that they will begin a massive renovation project to “bring the great outdoors to the great indoors.”
The large-scale renovation, which will begin just in time for the summer, is geared towards giving climbers a more “authentic” rock climbing experience. The first step is to remove the roof of the building, to allow for freer airflow and true-to-life weather. This will mean that climbers will have to plan accordingly, as a rainy day may make the plastic holds extra slippery, and may lead to “seeping” of water from the walls for a day or two afterwards, especially on the walls that don’t face the sun.
“We think it’s important for climbers to experience the full range of rock climbing challenges and situations,” says Jay Smith, Peak’s co-owner and General Manager. “The addition of the true-to-life weather will add an extra dimension of planning and preparation to the climber’s day.”
The idea is not without some criticism. “If I want to climb when it’s snowing, I come to Peak to stay warm,” says author and longtime member Manson Boze. “I’ve cleaned enough routes in a Virginia downpour. I don’t need to do it inside, too.” Other Peak members have echoed this sentiment, with varying degrees of intensity.
Most of the criticism seems to be coming from the older climbers, who have extensive tick lists and enjoy a lazy Sunday session in the confines of the climbing gym. The younger contingent of Peak’s member base seems far more “stoked” on the idea. “I think it’s a great idea,” says Peak employee and Pro Climbing team member Hunder Schardt. “It’ll be just as sick as pulling down outside, but without the choss and the dogs and stuff. Peak will be so much cooler than any other indoor gym.”
Of course, “indoor” won’t really apply to Peak after this renovation. In addition to the roof removal, landscaping companies will come through the gym to plant trees for shade, cultivate smaller shrubs and plant life to keep the soil from eroding, and install several smaller boulders for people to sit on and cheer while their friends go for the big send.
“We’re hoping to bring the best of the New River Gorge to Richmond,” says Smith. “We think there will be some initial resistance, but people will appreciate it before too long. It’s really revolutionary.”
Peak Experiences is located a 11421 Polo Circle in Midlothian VA.
So in case you hadn’t guessed already, Peak isn’t actually going to do any of those things. (I pitched it to Jay years ago and he told me it was “too expensive” or something.) But I hope everyone reading this is having a great April 1.
Speaking of revolutionary, the purpose of this post (other than giving you a good laugh) was to announce that Peak is going to launch its very own blog here at PeakExperiencesRVA.wordpress.com. The purpose of this blog is to give everyone in the Richmond climbing community an opportunity to share stories, thoughts, and goals with each other even when you aren’t at the gym.
We’ll feature news and reviews from around the climbing world, plus guest posts from your favorite members and staff…but we also want to hear from you. There will be a bi-monthly feature called “Storytime Saturday” where we post the epic (or not-so-epic) adventures and photos you’ve submitted – from that time to stuck the finishing move at ABS nationals to the time you were so runout you couldn’t even see your last bolt and it started to rain. Send your gnar to email@example.com (I don’t actually know what exactly “gnar” means but it sounded good.)
This project is about you as much as it is about the gym. If there’s something you’d like to see, or read about, or talk about, shoot an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll try to make it happen!
The blog will update at least three times a week, so check back often and tell your friends!
Happy April Fool’s!