I was told by multiple parties that it was impossible to build a climbing gym in Squamish. The community was too small and there was no land. Ten years ago however I was lucky enough to meet the only person who believed in my crazy plan and had the capacity to take on the risk, Adrian Blachut.
Fast forward three years, we found a landlord willing to build a 40ft high building, a city council willing to bend an ear to our zoning needs, a bank who was willing to lend to a couple of kids in their mid-twenties (one of whom could only list a Volvo wagon and a trad rack as assets), three more owners willing to help push it to the finish line and a community willing to trust that a large concrete slab would become a climbing gym.
Since opening day I have held no illusions about the passion that climbers in Squamish feel towards our space and the decisions we make.
Ground Up taught me a lot about the power of community building. From watching people mobilize to support one another in times of incredible grief and trauma, creating space for new climbers to join the community, or adapting to the ever changing policies of the pandemic. The people I have connected with from this community are the most powerful, capable and ambitious I may ever meet.
Ground Up taught me to be vulnerable, to be curious, and to be compassionate. To see things from perspectives outside my own, and create space to care when it is absolutely terrifying to do so and when all common sense tells you to run.
Thank you for setting the bar high, thank you for pushing me to grow and for supporting this business through all the good times and the hardships.
Like any good multipitch, it’s always better to swap leads, and it’s time for the community to have new energy. I could not be more proud to be passing the torch to Alison Stewart-Patterson who will be moving from her current post as Program Director to Gym Director, Julia Pilliar, the current General manager of the Grotto in Guelph, Ontario and Dave Perozzo, the founder and owner of the Guelph Grotto, where Tyson, Jess, Adrian and I all have a profound connection from our first climbing experiences. This team has the skills, passion and vision to serve our growing community and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.
Thank you for the lessons, the support, and for the space to learn and grow with our little climbing community.
Thank you to all the staff who put their hat in the ring and are brave, passionate, and curious enough to serve this community through Ground Up’s Route Setting Team, Management team, Front Desk, and programs.
Thank you to so many friends and members of this community for caring so damn much about the people around you, thank you for being so incredible and motivated and sharing your passion.
On behalf of Adrian, Tyson, Jess, Jeff, and I- It has been a pleasure serving you, Squamish!
I look forward to seeing everyone in the gym soon.
(In photo left to right: Tyson Braun, Adrian Blachut, Jess Rigg, Alison Stewart-Patterson, Lauren Watson and Julia Pilliar Missing: Jeff Lightburn, Dave Perozzo)