Grand Wall trying to stay alive | Squamish Chief

Grand Wall trying to stay alive

The bouldering co-operative needs $20,000 by the end of the year

The Grand Wall Bouldering Cooperative is not in immediate danger of closing as rumours have suggested, but its staff acknowledge the facility’s future appears to be uncertain.

Months ago, a crowdfunding page appeared on the web, appealing to Squamish residents to kick in some cash in an effort to prevent the co-op from shutting its doors.

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The volunteer-run organization said its deadline was this past June.

Thomasina Pidgeon, who’s part of the board of directors for the co-op, said that the Grand Wall now has until December to see if it’ll survive in its current form.

“We need roughly $20,000 to secure the coming year and we raised about a tenth of that,” she wrote in an email from Europe. “Not ideal, but the amount raised amounts to 4.5 new annual memberships and every membership counts.”

Memberships are $400 per year.

If the money situation doesn’t look better by December, the co-op will focus on moving to a different location. 

Pidgeon said the members of the co-op are dedicated to keeping it going, as it fills a niche market. 

But since a commercial climbing gym opened up about two years ago in Squamish, membership numbers for Grand Wall have dwindled, she said.

With less members, the organization has run into challenges when trying to pay the rent, which is its number one expense.

There are no staffing costs, as volunteers run everything.

“Sadly with the increasing cost of rent in Squamish, finding a place more affordable may prove challenging,” Pidgeon added. “We would much rather stay put as we know a potential move will cost us something.”

Started in 2008, the Grand Wall Bouldering Cooperative was created by a small group of local climbers who were looking for a spot to train when it was too wet to climb outside. The walls of the co-op have thousands of holds which allow climbers to pick and choose the difficulty of their climb. 

It’s also home to an LED moon board, which lights up its holds to show athletes different climbing routes of varying difficulty. 

The gym also offers 24-hour access and training clinics. 

To help raise funds, Grand Wall is currently offering an early bird special. 

The month of October will come free with the purchase of a 2017-18 annual pass, which amounts to $400.

“It’s an excellent training gym, as good as any I have seen in Europe,” said Pidgeon. “Even members of the Vancouver climbing community understand this and want to open a similar facility. Hopefully Squamish realizes this before it’s too late.”

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