The weather in the Okanagan remains cold and snowy, making it difficult for those with a rock climbing bug to get their fix – now one man looks to fix that.
Chris de Vries is hoping to help out his fellow rock climbing fans in town, as he gets set to open up a new climbing gym in Kelowna.
De Vries plans to open Gneiss Climbing sometime in March 2016. The facility is a bouldering gym, a type of rock climbing that doesn’t require a partner to hold onto a rope.
“You basically go up to heights that are high enough to give you the experience of climbing without being so high that when you land you hurt yourself,” de Vries said. “Underneath the climbing you have very large matting, like crash matting.”
Beyond the Crux, on Finns Road, has been Kelowna’s only dedicated climbing wall for many years, but de Vries says Gneiss Climbing will be a more premium gym than Kelowna is used to.
“We’re specialized in bouldering and the training side of climbing,” de Vries said. “We kind of went a couple steps above to get everything professionally done, designed by high end climbers to bring more of a premium facility to Kelowna.”
The walls at Gneiss have been designed by Walltopia, the “premier wall building company in the world,” according to de Vries.
The walls are currently being built in Bulgaria and will be shipped to Kelowna in the next couple weeks. The shipment from Bulgaria will take roughly 60 days.
The Boulderfields in South Kelowna has become a popular outdoor bouldering area over the last decade, drawing in people from out of province to climb.
De Vries has lived in Kelowna for the past ten years and says he has seen the popularity of bouldering take off in that time.
“I was part of the first initial bouldering guidebook that was done about nine years ago,” he said. “Part of my contribution to climbing in Kelowna has been helping out with that first guidebook.”
As people push themselves harder in the sport, de Vries says they’ll require more time in the gym to practice.
“In the summer when people are trying to climb hard and send new routes, they need to come into the gym to train,” he said. “It’s become more and more apparent that if you want to climb very hard things you need to train specifically to climb those hard things.”
The facility will be located at 430 Banks Road in Kelowna.