A newcomer to Rossland is bringing a new kind of recreation activity to the city.
Jason Ring plans to open a bouldering gym in the city this summer.
“I noted there was a need, and it’s something I’m passionate about,” says Ring, who moved to Rossland from the Okanagan last fall. “I’ve spent my whole time in BC trying to make a career out of rock climbing, and this is my opportunity.”
Bouldering is a form of rock‐climbing where no ropes are used. Participants climb on short walls with thick padding below them to offer fall protection.
“Bouldering has the fewest barriers to entry of the various climbing disciplines. Participants only need a pair of shoes and a basic safety orientation/introduction,” Ring said in a brief to Rossland city council. “With careful planning on behalf of facility operators the sport can be accessible and enjoyable for most ages and ability levels.”
Ring started canvassing the community for interest in the idea soon after he arrived in the city. He says he got a positive reception from the hundreds of people who responded to his survey.
“The response was overwhelmingly in favour of my project, with only four individuals saying this was not something they felt was needed in the area,” he wrote to council. Responses came from both within Rossland and surrounding communities.
Most importantly, he says two key members of the Rossland Climbing Society endorsed the idea.
“They have been working to open some form of climbing wall in Rossland, but have been so far unsuccessful,” he said in his brief. “Both are excited by my interest in pursuing this, and have given me their full support.”
The next issue was finding space. Ultimately, he chose an unused space in the basement of the Rossland Miner’s Hall. It’s not huge — 1,200 square feet — but probably a good start for a new business in a small community.
He began negotiating with the landlord — the City of Rossland — to rent the facility.
“This is the type of facility they want to see in town so [recreation manager Kristi Calder] helped me make it happen,” he says. “So it’s beneficial to everybody.”
Council approved leasing the space to Ring at its last meeting. He’ll pay $1,750 for the space every month, with rent being tied to inflation.
Ring is having the facility designed professionally — “it’s the way the industry is going,” he says. Visitors will enter the facility, and see a three dimensional structure — essentially, a four-sided, low climbing wall— surrounded by mats. He says it will provide about 1,000 square feet of climbing surface.
Aside from the bouldering walls, there will be some climbing and core-specific training equipment, seating/lounging spots for participants to rest or family/friends to watch, Ring says in his brief to council. Rental shoes will be available to help those without their own.
A small amount of retail equipment will be available to help those who want to continue in the sport and progress.
Ring, who worked in several bouldering gyms in the Okanagan, has also worked closely introducing youth to the sport. He says his aim is to make his gym a welcoming space.
“One of the focuses of the business will be offering a family friendly indoor activity,” he says in his brief to council. “I feel that fun and challenging recreation activities with the potential for physical as well as mental development is important.”
To that end, he plans to offer a variety of family and children’s programs, weekly climbing lessons throughout the school year, as well as partial day camps during school breaks.
“I feel it’s important. I have a two-year-old myself and from the age of a few weeks she was a regular in the gym in Vernon,” he says. “I’ve worked at the boys and girls club. Kids are important, and with this type of activity, it can provide a different kind of recreation activity for people, like me, who weren’t really the best at team sports in school.”
With the lease agreement in place, design underway and insurance and other details being worked out, Ring plans to open the facility as soon as July and no later than next September.