Van­cou­ver’s Amaz­ing Boul­der­ing Gym

Gripped - - THE GYM - Story by An­drew Cof­fey

It is hard to be­lieve that there was a time when Van­cou­ver climbers had only one place to pur­sue what they loved. Hard to be­lieve, but as I learned, it was easy to un­der­stand.

On March 22, 2012, I was thr illed to fi­nally be stand­ing at the end of a long and ar­du­ous jour­ney, and also at the be­gin­ning of a new and ex­cit­ing one. At 11:35 a.m., I walked out of city hall, hold­ing in my hand the pre­cious and hard won oc­cu­pancy per mit and busi­ness li­cense for The Hive Boul­der­ing Gym. It is im­pos­si­ble to de­scr ibe the feel­ing of putting the fi­nal nail into a four-year project as I hung up the framed cer­tifi­cate, and to be hon­est, I think I cr ied a lit­tle. Fi­nally, af­ter years of stress, frus­tra­tion, city pol­i­tics, plan­ning, fi­nanc­ing and con­struc­tion, I was proud to an­nounce that The Hive was alive.

Mo­ments later, af­ter a post on Face­book, a fran­tic dash to make sure the staff we had on hand were pre­pared, and one fi­nal check of our brand new fa­cil­ity, we sat back and waited. We had fi­nally built it.Would they come? It didn’t take long, a minute or two. It seemed they must have been wait­ing. Sud­denly, a bike sailed be­tween our gates and into the park­ing lot, a r ider pulled up to the bike racks. Next, a car swung up the dr ive, slid­ing into a fresh park­ing space. And then it re­ally be­gan. We opened our doors on a spr ing morn­ing, and were blessed to find they never re­ally shut. The peo­ple, they just kept com­ing.

Among them were the fr iendly and fa­mil­iar faces from Van­cou­ver’s ex­ist­ing climb­ing com­mu­nity-folks we’d seen at the other climb­ing spots, the crags, the boul­ders, be­lay ledges on the Chief and through­out its many park­ing lots. They all came stream­ing in, al­most with­out stop, and be­fore we knew it, it was 11 p.m. and we found our­selves shut­ting the doors, tak­ing a deep breath, clean­ing up the chalk, and with amaz­ing suc­cess, our first day drew to a close.

It has now been a year and a half, and things have only picked up. When I be­gan re­search­ing this project in 2008, I had imag­ined that Van­cou­ver needed a sec­ond rope gym. Af­ter find­ing some ini­tial fund­ing, I be­gan a long search for a build­ing, but where do you find a 10- me­tre tall space, with am­ple park­ing, the r ight zon­ing, a good lo­ca­tion and the r ight pr ice. I re­al­ized why there was only one climb­ing gym in Van­cou­ver – there sim­ply wasn’t a build­ing in which to put one. Sit­ting at a fr iend’s place, shar ing my frus­tra­tions with the search for this imag­i­nary beast over a cold bev­er­age, it struck like light­ning – a boul­der ing gym. That was the an­swer. Cut the height in half and all of a sud­den build­ings started pop­ping up. It won’t be that hard to find – or so I thought.

There was one, a seven-me­tre open space, clear to the ceil­ing, lim­ited ren­o­va­tion, de­cent lo­ca­tion, great price, but was go­ing to be de­mol­ished in three years, so it would not work. Another po­ten­tial space was a 10 me­tres high, close to tran­sit, lots of park­ing build­ing with a de­cent price, but it had the wrong zon­ing. Time af­ter time some­thing didn’t fit un­til fi­nally I found one. The per­fect place: close to tran­sit, a her­itage build­ing, park­ing, right zon­ing, right price, we had found it. I should have known bet­ter, we lost it to a cash of­fer from some­one else. We had been “sniff­ing” at it for six months. Half a year of plan­ning, re­peated dis­cus­sions with the city, ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings, climb­ing wall de­signs, a fair bit of cap­i­tal, and the dreams of a new climb­ing com­mu­nity all van­ished in the blink of an eye; strangely enough on the very day we re­ceived the fi­nal go ahead from the plan­ning depart­ment at Van­cou­ver City Hall.

Noth­ing worth do­ing is ever easy, and I didn’t think it would take over two and a half years to find a build­ing, but af­ter a tremen­dous let­down, we found one. It was a big and va­cant re­frig­er­a­tion fa­cil­ity: 10,000 square feet of six-me­tre foot ceil­ings, con­crete tiltup, de­cent price, right zon­ing, a blank in­ner can­vas, and most im­por­tantly a large park­ing lot.When I walked through the doors I knew im­me­di­ately, it was go­ing to be The Hive.

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