Feature Article - April 2015
Find a printable version here

Big Thrills, No Spills

Safety First for Climbing Facilities

By David Mumpower


If you don't want to splurge on these new technologies, an old-school approach is also available. You can require any solo user to get their gear checked by a fellow climber prior to accessing the wall. Jeanette said, "All efforts are designed to add an additional layer of protection to a climber utilizing an auto belay station."

Once the safety measures are in place, the fun part begins. Route settings elevate climbing workouts by adding variety to the climbing experience. You can craft a wall to maximize your clients' endurance, strength and balance. Power users also relish challenging speed runs as a way to add a level of competition to an ordinary exercise routine. When route setting, you should determine the basic concept, goal and difficulty of the challenge. Although the temptation exists to create the type of course that will immediately lead to viral videos on YouTube, make sure your employees realize that safety is more important to the vast majority of customers.

With the safety of your clientele assured, you can focus on the area of revenue generation via programming. Whether the gym guest is a new or veteran climber, they are likely to be interested in classes. Because solo climbing lacks the social element so important to the sport, proper programming fosters a sense of inclusion for all participants. You should provide a comfortable environment for visitors starting the moment they enter the facility. Make certain the client realizes that in order to gain access to the wall, they must complete their first program, which is a competence test. Calling it a program rather than a test negates people's innate fear of being graded. This will also provide positive reinforcement and a sense of achievement once the program is completed.

Programming represents a means of sustaining interest in rock climbing. Remember that the introduction to climbing is but the first step. Provide intermediate and advanced classes in order to enable climbers with a path to self-improvement in their new sport. Also, one-on-one training should be an option, as many customers prefer a more intimate learning experience and are willing to pay for the privilege. If you want to entice younger climbers, consider offering programs that will enable Girl and Boy Scouts and the like to gain badges by completing such classes.

Given the explosive popularity of indoor rock climbing, you should consider adding such services to your facility. You owe it to your current as well as your future clients to remain focused on safety in your new enterprise. Require many if not all of your staff members to be certified and provide programs to ensure that everyone on the wall is properly trained and belayed. Presuming you follow these guidelines and offer a great combination of routes and classes, your climbing business will generate a solid revenue stream for years to come.