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A little boulder: Climbers seek public wall in Granby

An outdoor bouldering wall in Melbourne, Australia, shows the type of wall a group of local climbers hopes to bring to Polhamus Park in Granby. The town board was supportive of the idea, but a few more discussions are needed before anything will be finalized.
Granby town board packet

A group of Grand County climbers want to bring a bouldering wall to one of Granby’s public parks.

Chris Michalowski coaches the local youth climbing team, the Never Summer Senders, which currently practices at the YMCA-Snow Mountain Ranch. It’s a branch of Stoke Factory Mountain Sports, a local nonprofit focused on climbing.

“We kind of quickly realized we just don’t have enough space for climbing,” he said. “At this point, I don’t even advertise the team anymore because we’re full. We don’t have any more spots.”



Michalowski, along with other interested climbers in Grand, started looking for the right spot for an indoor bouldering gym and talked to several business owners. Unfortunately, they struggled to find the right spot at an affordable cost.

Outdoor bouldering walls at public parks are also pretty common, so the group shifted their focus to bringing such a structure to Granby. They’ve been working with Eldorado Climbing Walls to design one for the town.



The project doesn’t have a final design, though it’s getting close. Chris Olivier brought the proposal to Granby’s town board this week, with the idea that the wall could be attached to the existing concrete band shelter in Polhamus Park. Michalowski, who sits on the town board, recused himself from the discussion.

The Granby trustees were supportive of the project, but had a number of concerns, including the location of the wall. There have long been talks about replacing or moving the concrete band shelter, so the board didn’t think it wise to attach the climbing wall to a structure that may not be there much longer.

Additionally, the town already has problems with children climbing onto the roof of the band shelter and didn’t want to encourage that behavior further.

If the bouldering wall were a freestanding structure, it would be about 11 feet tall and 30 feet long. The wall would be flat on one side with the other side overhanging at about 15-20 degrees.

This wall would be different from the other climbing options in Grand County because it would be re-routable. Michalowski explained over the phone Friday that other climbing walls in Grand like the one at Hideaway Park in Winter Park and the one at the YMCA can’t have a new route set.

“As far as just a project for climbers by climbers, there’s definitely not (anything like this),” Michalowski said. “That’s the beauty of it, we’d be able to change the whole route and keep it fresh.”

Building the wall as a standalone structure would cost about $75,000 and the climbers are hoping to fund most of the wall through grants. The nonprofit raised $3,000 toward the project with a Winter Park film festival earlier this summer and are reaching out to other organizations for support.

“In a perfect world we’d have it fully funded so the town wouldn’t have to contribute anything,” Michalowski said.

He wasn’t sure how many climbers are in Granby and surrounding areas that might utilize the bouldering wall. Olivier mentioned in discussions with the town board that many local climbers leave the county for recreation since there aren’t many nearby options.

Michalowski envisions making the climbing wall a hub for users with classes for children in the summer, events for adults and maybe even a fun competition series.

“Really trying to create a gathering space for climbers, but also build up the energy with the park there,” he said.

As for insurance, Granby staff said the insurance company for the town would be fine with adding the wall to th Granby’s policy. Some signage would likely be needed to reduce town liability.

Olivier mentioned that bouldering walls are reasonably safe, as they only go so high and include a landing area.

The town board gave support to the project, though more discussions would be needed before anything is finalized. The bouldering wall will go to the town’s parks committee for further review and to help determine the best location for it.


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