Rock climbing facility opens in Courtenay

A rock climbing gym, conducive to any level of climber, has opened in the Comox Valley.

Wip Climbing held a well-attended grand opening Saturday at its new facility at 30th Street in Courtenay.

“We have a variety of things for all ages and all abilities,” co-owner Josh Muller said. “It’s a really social way of exercising. You spend so much time on the ground socializing with your friend, then go on the wall for 20 seconds and try hard, then you rest for a few minutes.”

Muller is a professional climber who owns Bolder Climbing in Calgary. His business partner, Christiaan de Vries, is a geologist who owns gneiss climbing in Kelowna.

“We both have our independent facilities,” Muller said. “We came together to create this expansion, and this new project.”

While Muller’s gym has catered to adults, de Vries has focused more on the university student crowd. He anticipates the Valley market will be young families looking for activities, especially in winter.

“But at the same time, making sure that we have enough advanced stuff for the advanced climbers,” de Vries said. “My gym in Kelowna, we had a lot of people start that never climbed in their life, and now they’re high-level climbers, four years later. So you’re creating a market, sometimes creating an identity. They start to identify as a climber, it’s something they’re proud of. They do road trips. They kind of plan their life around it.”

Wip stands for Work in Progress, but as Muller explains, it’s also a play on words.

“In climbing, we have this term called, ‘To take a whipper.’ It means to take a big fall in climbing.”

The ground floor at Wip Climbing contains several walls, some with ropes. The upstairs contains a fitness/weight training area, a children’s party room and a MoonBoard. The latter is a training tool that simulates the hardest levels of climbing.

“Basically, this board exists everywhere in the world,” Muller said. “The same holds, the same angle of wall, same placement of each hold. And everybody creates a holder problem. On this board alone, there’s 55,000 holder problems.”

Which sheds some light on the cerebral element of rock climbing.

“There’s a lot of analogies to soccer,” de Vries said. “The top soccer players aren’t necessarily the fastest or the strongest, but they’re the best decision-makers. Climbing, at that high level, gets down to decision-making. Am I going to put my foot here, or there? Or use my toe or use my heel? It becomes an exercise in patience under exertions.”

Wip Climbing is located at 780-30th St. in Courtenay. It is open seven days a week.

FMI: wipclimbing.com

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