By Ange Tysdal
We drove by and saw the raised fist with the setting T-wrench painted on the lime green background. A pillar as the centerpiece between walls with hard, right-angled roofs, flakes, cracks, splattered with holds and tape. “Looks pretty sweet,” Eben said with his stoic psych. We’d both learned to climb outside on granite cracks, plugging gear. Our only gym experience had been a humbling one for me, struggling up 5.8s and wondering why it felt so much harder than outside? I’d give indoor climbing one more try before writing it off altogether.
We parked at a meter around the corner. It was dark. I remember feeling nervous as we walked into the building. Wondering if I would leave with the same dislike of indoor climbing as I had before, which would be weird because I loved climbing.
Caleb sat behind the front desk, one of the original front desk staff. CityROCK opened 2 days earlier. Everything felt shiny, bright, and new. Eben and I climbed. Had a blast. Signed up for memberships. Made friends with everyone, and a couple days later I worked for CityROCK as a route setter.
CityROCK turned into my home away from home. I trained here. Made friends that began to feel more like family. It became more than a job and a climbing gym. It became the foundation of my community. Ten years later, here I am. Working a different position and still loving it, immersed in a community where we all have the same commonality: a love of climbing.
Walking through the doors for the first time is my favorite memory of CityROCK. I felt all those feels of a new experience: fear, excitement, wonder, hope. Being part of it for 10 years keeps me with those feelings as I’ve watched it expand from a sport wall and cross fit gym to house bouldering, the CLIMBarium, training areas, the wave, the blue boulder, The Ute & Yeti, and now the fitness area, yoga studio, new walls, and a new, second location on the horizon.
As we celebrated our 10th Anniversary, I, we, thought about all the moments and things that we, as staff, as climbing partners and friends, remember or enjoy about CityROCK. Sure, we loved the 214 competitors that showed up to Downtown Local 10th Anniversary edition (Thank you for participating!) and the infamous CityROCK shenanigans like the pole slide, drop zone, leap of faith, and crate stacking. We loved the cupcakes, the balloons, the smiles and try-hard. The 10th anniversary tee shirts, yoga classes, music at the Ute & Yeti, and giveaways galore. What we really love are the memories we have of this place, that we continue to make at this place, that we hope you have of this place that means so much to us.
In honor of our 10th Anniversary, we wanted to share some of our favorite moments here at CityROCK starting with 3 people who have been here since the beginning: Lucas, Larissa, and Paolo.
Lucas: “I remember this one time when a pro climber came into the gym. He spent half his time flashing all the hardest problems in the gym and the other half cheering everyone else on. It was awesome. He was just as if not more psyched on watching other people climb their V3 or whatever they were working on than on climbing himself. Seeing him so psyched for everyone…” Lucas paused to laugh and smile, “was a really great experience.”
Larissa: “Max [a super strong boulderer and setter] started the ‘Bring Sally Up’ push-up challenge here. He’d taught so many people about it. His goal was to complete the whole song because Daniel Woods couldn’t do it. He figured if he could do the whole song he would be able to climb just as strong or stronger. Anyway, the song came up on Pandora one night and almost everyone dropped to the floor and started doing push-ups…I also liked the impromptu dance parties to songs off the member playlists.”
Paolo: “Ah, non lo so. I have to pick just one? Well, for starters, sometimes I would come in early in the morning on Fridays before the gym opened (when we opened at 11 am) and I would crank up the music and stand in the middle of the main floor with the lights off. The light behind the climbing walls passed through the t-nuts and made the walls look like a sky with countless stars. Also, I smile when I think about the indoor camps for kids that we had, also before the gym would open in the morning, where the kids would just run around playing soccer, hide and seek, and doing treasure hunts.”
The rest of the original crew has moved on to be head setters of other gyms, videographers, grant writers for non-profit organizations, engineers, and so many other things, which means the faces of CityROCK changed and new people came and went or stayed. Here’s some of their memories.
Chad: “Being chased on the green pillar by zombies. It was thrilling! Such an adrenaline rush. They never got me.”
Vik: “The time when Joe and I cleaned up the horrible situation in the men’s bathroom,” Vik said then laughed. “I don’t know how it happened, but it was everywhere. Joe and I bonded getting the job done. I won’t ever forget it.”
Matt: “My favorite memories are of those people who say they can’t do it. They can’t climb. They can’t go in the cave. They can’t, but their kids can. And then they do it. It’s really cool to watch them transform. I once went through the cave with a lady who didn’t think she could do it. She did. She had a great time. Anyone can climb here. When you convince someone to do it and they aren’t sure and they do…those are the best moments.”
TJ: “When we all used to go to Brewers after work and play telephone Pictionary. We would laugh so hard. It’s not really about CityROCK, the place, but the people, I guess. About the place. I used to work really late at SoCO LoCo and then have to work really early for high school comp. Instead of going home, I set up ‘my apartment’ behind the green pillar. I made a bed out of scraps of open cell foam, got a sleeping bag from Gearonimo, and would watch cartoons on my laptop before I fell asleep.”
That was back when Larissa would commute from Golden to work at CityROCK and had a crashpad bed set-up in the storage area.
Shanese: “Our foreign exchange Irish route setter, Patrick! He really brought our whole group together. I remember teaching him to vacuum around the boulder. Around the boulder, not in it.”
Cleg: “Living out back, behind CityROCK, in my van and getting to know all the locals.”
Tori: “One of my first experiences at CityROCK was bouldering while ABL was going on. At this time, I wasn't a member or staff, just a guest. Everyone was so nice and cheered for me on every climb I got on. It was a different experience than I have had at any other gym. It definitely made me feel how fun and friendly the community is, and it made me want to be a part of it. Now I work here and have made a lot of friends.”
Jim: “I think my favorite memory so far has been going out to grab a beer after work with Janice, Ryan, and Mariah. I think there's a distinctive warm note in our company culture that shines through in how the employees regard each other. I feel like I've been welcomed into a family.”
Laura: “It was actually the moment I got offered a job at CityROCK. Matt was always really bad about getting on a route AS they were making the closing announcement so the staff was waiting on us to leave. Joe approached me and I thought he was going to say something about how long we were taking too long to leave but he asked me where I worked. At the time it was a bakery and I said "eh.” He then asked if I wanted to work here and I have been here ever since.”
I think most of us could go on and on about all our memories. Like the time Joe set up the King Swing, the zipline, the log (who remembers the log?). New hold deliveries, new faces joining the community, fundraisers like St. Baldrick’s where some of the staff raised money and shaved their heads, the ABS comps and being the warm up facility for legends like Alex Puccio, Daniel Woods, and our very own Aiden Mike. Watching the little crushers like Matt Sherman grow up from barely seeing over the front desk to climbing harder than the rest of us. These stories are our community.
What are your favorite CityROCK memories? We would love to hear them. Please comment below, letting us know that moment or moments that stand out to you.