The New Climbing Culture Hits the Valley

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If you have never been to an indoor rock climbing gym, you might have some preconceived notions as to what it might look like. Surely, there are some grimy straps, harnesses and other tools needed to get you up a wall from the ‘90s before you rappel down.

And while there are several gyms where that might be true, at Focus Climbing Center, they have a pretty different way of doing things.

“I have been in the climbing industry for 20 years and I’ve worked at every Valley climbing gym, so I’ve seen a lot of the ins and outs of the industry and the community. I really designed this facility to create more to help bring the community together, not necessarily divide it up and stick more people in the gym,” Owner Joe Czerwinski says. “There are climbing wall designs that allow for more people to be in the facility, but it doesn’t necessarily lend to the community aspect of it.”

At Focus, the form of rock climbing used is called bouldering, which doesn’t require any ropes or harnesses. The two basic things you need are the correct shoes (which you can rent) and a chalk bag. This style of climbing gym is cropping up more and more throughout the United States, and Czerwinski says it’s become the most popular form of climbing with teenagers and young adults.

Not only has Czerwinski been in the industry for two decades, but in 2008, he was a member of the U.S. Adult National Bouldering Team during the first IFSC Bouldering World Cup on U.S. soil. Two years later, he was picked as the USAC National Team Coach, making him the only American male to have represented the United States as a coach and an athlete.

“We are changing the mold and saying, ‘This is how climbing gyms should start being for the next 20 years,’” Czerwinski says.

And being that Czerwinski has seen his competition, his gym does things their own way. There is air conditioning for one thing, a unique type of flooring system that covers 3,000 square feet of a landing surface, and free chalk. Focus aims to change the perception of climbing gyms, and making it easier for people to join in is a big part of that.

For anyone wanting to try their hand at bouldering, Wednesdays are Ladies Nights where day passes are only $5 after 6 p.m. Saturdays are also Family Fun Nights, where a family of three can each get a day pass and gear rental for $30, which is a $65 value. Any additional children are only $5 extra.

If you are feeling competitive and would like to join in on the fun, Focus Climbing Center is also hosting the Desert Classic Bouldering Competition on Saturday, September 27. To enter, you can call 480.718.5258. Registration ends the day of the competition.

The registration fee is $35 for members and $40 for non members, but anyone who wants to attend and watch can do so for free as professional and amateur climbers compete. There will be food, beer and a DJ to get the competition going.

Focus Climbing Center, 2150 W. Broadway Road #103, Mesa, 480.718.5258, focusclimbingcenter.com

 

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