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The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

    Bend’s growing rock climbing scene: more gyms

    Bends+growing+rock+climbing+scene%3A+more+gyms

    Since 2010, indoor rock-climbing has solidified itself as a staple of Bend’s recreational scene, having become increasingly popular in the area, to the point where there are now three in-door rock gyms for climbers of all skill levels and climbing preferences.

    Each gym – The Circuit, The Bend Rock Gym and Boardworks Climbing – offers a unique experience, catering to climbers of all levels and preferences.
    The Circuit, opened in 2019, provides bouldering at all levels, with additional amenities such as a bar and community spaces. Nathan Drury, 32, manager of The Circuit, highlighted the inclusive nature of the gym, and said, “the beauty of what we have here is the fact that we kind of attract people from all walks of life.”
    The gym’s welcoming atmosphere has been a key factor in its growth, especially after the challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions.
    “Since kind of all of that stuff went to the backseat and people started kind of emerging from that, we definitely saw, I would say, substantial growth,” said Drury.
    The Bend Rock Gym, which opened in 2010, offers a mix of rope climbing, auto-belays (rope climbing without the need for someone else) and bouldering. Jack Reynolds, a Bend Rock Gym employee, noted the gym’s popularity, especially among climbers looking to train for outdoor climbs at Smith Rock.
    Reynolds also commented on the growth of rock climbing, saying, “I know it got a huge boost in popularity in the past like four or five years.”
    Boardworks Climbing, which opened in 2023, focuses on training-oriented climbing with moon boards (a climbing wall that is smaller, with routes on one board) of various difficulty levels (easy ones too). Lily Kral, 31, founder of Boardworks, emphasized the collaboration among the gyms, she said, “Since we all serve such a specific group, we’re able to kind of work together and build the climbing community and offer people what they want.”
    Kral also highlighted the mainstream appeal of climbing, saying, “[climbing] is so mainstream that most people, if they don’t do it themselves, they know someone who does.”
    Cameron Daniel, a climber of seven years, expressed optimism about the growth of the climbing community in Bend, and said, “I think there’s a lot of stoked people out here, and people coming from all over the place. So, I think that’s only going to really help grow the community here
    Daniel, like many others, was drawn to Bend because of its proximity to Smith Rock and the vibrant climbing scene.
    Despite the positive growth, some climbers have expressed concerns about the increase in climbing activity, citing crowded gyms and boulders as potential issues.
    Mike Rougeux, 45, a long-time climber and executive director at Bend Endurance Academy, emphasized the importance of maintaining a welcoming and respectful atmosphere in the climbing community. Rougeux encouraged climbers to be proactive in preserving climbing areas and fostering a positive community atmosphere, noting that small actions, such as picking up trash at outdoor climbing areas, can contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable climbing community.
    Rougeux also said, “I think now, with so many people that are climbing, it seems almost more welcoming, to be honest. Than when it was a smaller, closer-knit group of people, not that it wasn’t welcoming before, it felt intimidating.”
    Owen Clark, a student who took the Beginning Rock Climbing class at COCC, said, “It was highly inclusive and friendly, and half the time it seemed like people were just there to enjoy their time. It didn’t feel like a class, it felt like you were hanging out with climbing buddies.”
    “By the nature of the class, you were forced to meet and climb with new people, and you are able to grow with them. It was a cool experience,” Clark added.
    If you are a student of COCC and are interested in climbing, we have classes available, which provide free day passes and equipment to The Bend Rock Gym, for class. If you take the Beginning Rock Climbing class, you can even earn a belay certification.

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    About the Contributor
    Ash McCown, Staff photographer
    Ash McCown is a photographer for The Broadside. He is working towards an AAOT in mathematics, but also wants to take classes in many different areas to find what suits him best. Some things he enjoys doing in his free time are going bouldering, drawing, reading, listening to music and taking photos.

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