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Vertical Endeavors opens bouldering site in new Midway location

Posted on 09 April 2018 by Calvin

Head climb team coach Alexandra “Alex” Johnson is a Hudson, WI native who has made numerous first female ascents. She is a five-time United States National Bouldering Champion and two-time Bouldering World Cup gold medalist. Johnson has been climbing professionally for more than a decade and will lead the Climbing Fitness Training and Competitive Team Training at VETCB. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Vertical Endeavors held a grand opening for their fourth Twin Cities indoor climbing facility on Mar. 17. Located at 2550 Wabash Ave., Vertical Endeavors – Twin Cities Bouldering (VETCB) will be one of the largest bouldering facilities in the country. The new gym has 18,000+ square feet of boulder climbing wall surface, a dedicated “crack wall” with a variety of crack widths, a climbing treadmill, a yoga studio, a pro shop, multiple training and fitness areas, state-of-the-art locker rooms, a community space (with fireplace), and a large exterior patio with in-floor heating.

The Grand Opening kicked off with a ribbon cutting celebration followed by free climbing, a membership sale, and an opportunity to meet the VETCB staff.
Facility manager Gabe Olson said, ”We’re aspiring to be a community gathering place. If you have a membership at one of our climbing gyms, you’re welcome to use any of them. We have three other climbing gyms in the Twin Cities: in Uptown, Bloomington, and East St. Paul, but this new location is the only one that focuses exclusively on bouldering.”

Bouldering is rock climbing that’s been stripped down to the bare essentials. It’s rock climbing without ropes, but the person doing it isn’t usually more than 20’ off the ground. There’s a thick, soft “crash pad” underneath the climber to cushion any falls. Bouldering makes up for its relative lack of vertical distance with technical difficulty. A boulder “problem” is like a puzzle that you solve with your body. Using climbing techniques, upper and lower body strength, as well as finger strength, you try to reach the top of the boulder without falling.

With ceremonial ribbon cutting scissors in hand, Vertical Endeavors owner Nate Postma said, “We looked at a lot of sites before choosing this one. Located in an old warehouse space that borders Interstate 94 near the 280/University Avenue exit, the facility couldn’t have better proximity to both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Ours is the most westerly address in St. Paul and the most easterly address in Minneapolis. The Twin Cities are divided down the middle of Emerald Street, which borders the edge of our parking lot.”

Photo right: Vertical Endeavors Twin Cities Bouldering as seen from the front. An extensive parking lot is to the left. Easy access from the LRT is just two blocks to the north. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“Bouldering is a very social sport,” Postma explained. “Usually a bunch of friends come to boulder together, so we were intentional about having enough mat space underneath each of the boulder climbs to accommodate groups. We gutted this building and, partnering with Yaeger Construction, worked for a year on the project. What we ended up with is something really special: soaring hardwood ceilings, skylights that run the length of the gym, and indoor bouldering challenges that are second to none.”

VETCB offers a free pass for first-time climbers on the first Friday of each month from 6-9pm. Otherwise, a day pass costs $18, a ten punch card costs $135, month-to-month and annual memberships are available, and all gear can be rented or purchased on site. There are discount days for homeschool and scout groups, fitness training opportunities for youth and adults, and a range of yoga classes to choose from. VETCB is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-10pm (members only from 8-10am) and Sunday from 10am-6pm. Visit their website at www.verticalendeavors.com for more information.

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