A climbing gym in Katoomba

Katoomba is the CBD of the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains is the centre for climbing in NSW Australia.

Why then, does Katoomba not have a climbing gym?
Yep I heard the chorus, "why would you have a gym when there's so much rock?"
I'd have a gym for newbies to try out climbing safely, easily, after hours, and cheaply, before hitting the real rock.
I'd have a gym for climbers to train, socialise, have events (bring back Escalade!), climb when its wet or dark, and for education.
I'd have a gym for school group sports activities.
I'd have a gym for corporate challenges.
I'd have a gym to trade climbing gear, second hand camping gear, resole boots, mend and modify gear, a cafe, film screenings, boldering, tourists, parties, murals, cliff care HQ, lobby group meetings, information.. you get the idea?

Why hasn't it worked before?
There is one remaining gym in the Blue Mountains (not counting all the woodies in most garages around the place), its located in Leura and is a couple of squash courts in size. But few climbers that I know actually go there much. I suspect its too small, and doesn't successfully attract or generate that community feel.

I think a gym has to large and impressive so as to satisfy the expectations of schoolies and newbies. It also has to be large enough so that the newbies aren't crowding out the climbers. It has to be large enough to support large groups, including spectators. It has to generate and sustain a healthy community if it is to survive up in the mountains. It has to have diverse interests.

A model that clearly works
Hobart's The Climbing Edge, in Bathurst St has developed into an inspirational gym, offering space for kids parties, school groups, climbers and comps and spectators all at the same time! It also has a well stocked second hand camping gear shop and a strong sense of community backing it up. But that's Tasmania - things like that just seem to work down there.. maybe I'm expecting too much for something like that here in the Mountains...

The Climbing Edge's bread and butter are its school groups, but it is the community that feel ownership of it that sustain its amazing set up and standard.
The Blue Mountains Model
A not for proffit cooperative. Somehow bring together all the likely stake holders - local climbers, tour companies, cliff care, gear shops, associations, guides, schools, tourism, magazines, sporting brands, cooporate sponsors, local news paper and climbers from around NSW and sell the idea of a large scale climbing gym in Katoomba.

We have excellent skate parks, excellent tourist facilities, huge climbing history, few sporting parks and complexes... why not a climbing and related activities centre?

Likely problems
  • Raising the capital
  • Finding a suitable venue at a reasonable price (two options: Carington warehouses in Park St, or Savoy Theatre in Katoomba St)
  • Successfully getting stake holders to cooperate
  • Raising enough money to employ at least 1 full time, and 4 casual staff... possibly staff take on multiple roles such as retail assist in second hand gear shop, cafe, and climbing...
  • Insurance, though I'm told it is much better than it used to be.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds great. we need space for activities too. perhaps we could share. It is a problem trying to raise money when the building is privately owned and/or the group wanting to obtain money is not a non for profit organisation. It helps if the blue mountains is a swinging policital area too.


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