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New ownership at the Rock Dump

Climbing gym finds new life as a non-profit

Posted: September 19, 2012 - 12:05am
Nathan Gaudreault, left, and Tyler Gress work their way up The Rock Dump's climbing walls in June 2009.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Nathan Gaudreault, left, and Tyler Gress work their way up The Rock Dump's climbing walls in June 2009.

Climb on! The Rock Dump indoor rock climbing gym is now a non-profit.

The gym’s previous owner Matthew Cecil stepped away from the business this summer and a new non-profit, Juneau Climbing and Recreation, took over the gym.

Cecil established The Rock Dump gym in 2001.

“He kind of built the place,” Jesse Palomino operations manager said.

Cecil’s decision to sell the gym and a switch in ownership of the building housing the gym cast doubt about the Rock Dump’s future.

“We are not closing,” Palomino said. “We will be open … for a good while. In the immediate future we will be here and keep on trucking.”

The current lease will get indoor climbers at least through the winter months.

“We’ll have a better idea at the end of April,” Palomino said.

Palomino said past and current gym managers and concerned gym users established the climbing and recreation non-profit in August.

According to the state of Alaska corporate website, members of the non-profit are Demian Schane, director, secretary and incorporator; Eran Hood, director, president and incorporator and Tyler Gress, director, treasurer, vice president and incorporator.

“Originally we were trying to figure out what would need to happen to purchase the gym,” Palomino said. Buying the gym as a group was an original idea. The group found that incorporating as a non-profit allowed the group to get grants and support from those who wanted to offer help, he said.

“It is all pretty recent history,” Palomino said. “It has been pretty exciting couple months. Makes it a little nerve wracking.”

Membership dues and daily rates at the gym will stay the same for the time being, Palomino said.

Folks who haven’t visited the gym in a while will find new additions to the climbing walls and a four-inch thick foam floor, Palomino said. The gym installed the foam in 2010, he said.

“Before that we had pea gravel, which worked pretty well in dispersing force, Palomino said, “but it was gravel, so it wasn’t that soft.”

The new floor is made up of three inches of soft open cell foam and another inch of closed cell foam, Palomino said. The combination disperses impact over a larger area. The new floor is more comfortable and keeps down the dust, he said.

Locals can stop by the gym, show support and keep the doors open, Palomino said. “It is an asset to a community where there is 200 days of rain a year,” Palomino said.

The Rock Dump is hosting the Real Rock Tour, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. The tour is a compilation film festival, seven different short films with topics from mountaineering to sport climbing.

“A wide range of what is going on in the climbing world,” Palomino said.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at

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