Rock Dump rolls out the red carpet

Posted: Friday, July 16, 2010

Juneau's local climbing gym just got a bit cushier and a whole lot cleaner.

Joel Irwin / Juneau Empire
Joel Irwin / Juneau Empire

Beginning this spring, the Rock Dump revamped their flooring by replacing the existing gravel with nearly five inches of carpet-covered foam flooring. Tyler Gress, business manager for the gym, said the upgrade has vastly improved not only the facility, but also the overall experience for local climbers.

"One of the main complaints we got was that the Rock Dump was dirty feeling," he said. "We finally had enough of that, so in March, when the owner (Matt Cecil) was here, we decided to clean things up.

"It's really changed the inside of the gym. (The new flooring) makes the space feel more open and bright."

The project, which was completed about two weeks ago, came at a cost of about $20,000 said Gress. But one that was made easier on the organization's pocketbook with the help of community volunteers who hauled out gravel, swept and vacuumed over the course of three days to help prepare the space for the new flooring.

For years the floor of the Rock Dump was made up of small gravel which was covered with a layer of canvas. Large pads were strategically placed under climbers for both safety and security.

After nearly 200 wheelbarrow loads and a bit of troubleshooting, the 2,800 square feet of red carpeting, that now blankets the entire gym floor, has paid off. Gress said patrons are staying at the gym longer and using the floor space for more than just lounging around.

"You'll see people just relaxing, stretching, doing push-ups," he said. "It's just a more pleasant place to be."

Users are also testing their limits with more confidence, said Jessie Palomino, operations manager for the gym.

"On top of making the gym safer, it changes the energy. It makes people more comfortable taking falls, he said. "It's the simple stuff."

But beyond the flooring, the gym also boasts a new "bouldering cave" which Gress said has been in need of attention since the gym opened several years ago. Employees have also added an extension to the existing bouldering area, which Palomino said "makes for a more complete bouldering wall."

The bouldering cave, said Gress, had always been a bit odd, and was never a favorite of any of the climbers.

"It was gutted and taken down to just beams," he said. "Once we had a blank slate to work from, we put in some good geometry, (some) new cave features. I'm excited because it has a little bit of vertical bouldering on one side, and it looks inviting and fun right now."

Plus, he said, because of how the climbing areas are oriented, it's turned unusable space into an area that can cater to multiple climbers at once and gives opportunity for support, spotting and socialization between users.

Palomino said feedback on the new flooring has been nothing but positive, and he attributes their recent busy days to the recent upgrades.

"We've gotten a big response," he said. "And it's all been positive."

To celebrate what Gress describes as "a grand re-opening of sorts," the Rock Dump is offering discounted day passes and memberships through the month of August. Day passes for adults are currently $7, and memberships are an additional $10 off.

For more on the Rock Dump, go online to

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