Climbing: No Longer A Niche But Will It Last?


I’ve been following Emily Harrington, professional rock climber, on Instagram for about a year. Totally in awe of her physicality and bravery.

  • Emily has free climbed Yosemite’s El Capitan, summited Everest, and has been on big wall free climb expeditions all over the world. She is based in Squaw Valley, CA.
  • She’s Adrian Ballinger’s girlfriend, which is how she initially got on my radar.
  • Adrian was the first person I followed on snapchat (#EverestNoFilter) as he attempted to summit Mt. Everest in 2016 (and again in 2017).
  • This feat was covered not only on snapchat but also on ESPN, CNBC, youtube, instagram, facebook and network TV. So climbing has been getting lots of coverage.
  • Which perhaps explains why there are so many bouldering and climbing gyms opening up around the country.
  • Per NPD, climbing is one of the fastest-growing retail segments for any outdoor sport.

Here are some recent highlights on the growth of the category:

  • 414 commercial climbing gyms across the country at the end of 2016, up from 388 in 2015. (Source: Climbing Business Journal)
  • Earth Treks Climbing is opening the country’s largest indoor rock gym in Englewood, Colorado. They already have climbing centers in Virginia, Maryland and Golden.
  • Momentum Indoor Climbing is in the midst of opening two climbing facilities in  Houston in partnership with REI. Branded REI Co-op Climb, they will include full-service REI climbing pro-shops.
  • Brooklyn Boulders, with gyms in Brooklyn, Chicago and Somerville, Mass., has an average of 1000 visitors a day at each of their locations.
  • Most climbing gyms offer non-climbing options including fitness classes, exercise machines, yoga, pilates, saunas and cafes and bars.
  • Climbing is debuting in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Pics below.

Karissa Gross boulders at Earth Treks Climbing gym in Golden, Colorado. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

Anticipated REI Co-Op Inside Momentum Climbing Gyms in Katy Texas (opening July 2017)

Brooklyn Boulders, Gowanus


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