“I created the idea in my head,” said Travis Klinghagen, owner and designer of Climberz.
The 605 team arrived at the 4,000-square-foot facility in Tea as part of our annual company retreat.
Klinghagen greeted us with professional trainer and marketing manager Johnny Monroe, who they dubbed as “first mate.”
The large building consisted of approximately 3,500 square feet of bouldering walls for all ages, including a toddler section, a kids section, an open climbing section, and a training section. Bouldering, they explained, is a style of rock climbing done close to the ground without the use of ropes and harnesses.
Though it was indoors with plenty of protection, I was a little nervous. The crew soon helped that subside.
“The thing that we really want to stress is climbing safely. That’s why we go over [all of the safety tips at the beginning]. Our mats are extra thick compared to what a lot of gyms have to keep it even more safe for people to do bouldering,” said Klinghagen. “Going through a proper orientation, we’re teaching people how to fall and how to fall properly and keep them injury-free.”
He continued, “After that, it’s coming in here, learning how your body works, grabbing onto stuff. It’s really simple. It’s a really natural thing for people to do because we’ve been doing it ever since we were little kids.”
Try these additional options at Climberz.
A 45-minute fitness class with climbing exercises, calisthenics, resistance exercises, and endurance training utilizing heart rate monitoring.
A program for kids ages 6 to 17 with climbing instruction to build confidence and fitness broken into sections based on development.
After School Climberz
Includes transportation to the gym with a two-hour session of games, activities, fitness, learning, and more.
Want to know more? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I did learn how to fall properly, but volunteered to start taking pictures of others trying the first section of climbing walls. The Climberz guides explained there were eight levels of difficulty by color. Blues and greens were basic (a.k.a. 605 friendly). The ratings are V0 all the way to V8.
“In bouldering right now, it’s an infinite scale technically. It goes from V0 all the way to V16,” said Klinghagen. “We currently have [bouldering] problems that might be V8, so we’re halfway up there. When you watch professionals, you can imagine how good they really are.”
He continued, “Instead of letting that discourage you, it’s something to realize that those people have put a ton of time into that. The average person who comes in doesn’t worry about how hard they’re climbing, it’s what kind of experience they’re having in here and with the community.”
For example, Climberz opened this past June, and Monroe started climbing soon after.
“I started [coming here] back in July, and now I work here,” he said. “You try it, and you’re able to step outside of your box and become a little better as a person. Just try something new. You never know where it’ll take you.”
“I’ve been a part of a lot of sports, and the climbing community is the most engaging and most friendly group. You can go to places in the country, and they’re all really accepting and want you to get up the wall.” -Travis Klinghagen
The Climberz duo said forgiveness and humbleness also go a long way when you’re a beginner. 605 editorial assistant Dawn Geertsema impressed them with some of these traits during our session.
“I think [Dawn] is a good example of someone coming in and having a little fear of heights and just realizing that this isn’t all about doing a lot of pullups,” said Klinghagen. “It’s about learning how to go through a challenge and go through that mental process of, ‘How can I go from here to this next point?’”
Find your Path
Harness your climbing skills and take them to new levels with bouldering problems. Follow one color of grips and supports to the top, starting with the one marked with one of these difficulty ratings.
Blue // VB
Green // V0-V1
Yellow // V2-V3
Orange // V4-V5
Pink // V6-V7
Purple // V8
As the team was taken around to different routes, 605 lead multimedia designer Jordan Cushman took on a challenge of climbing an angled wall, where if the person reached the top and touched the pumpkin, they would win a t-shirt. And he did it.
Soon we were clapping and cheering for each other on each section. They even gave me a pity clap and laugh as I toppled down after barely leaving the mat.
Klinghagen said moments like this are one of the main reasons he started Climberz. It wasn’t to just have indoor climbing, but to emphasize encouragement and support.
“This is where I want to take my life,” he said. “I wanted to grow a climbing community in this area.”
The business has already welcomed 100 members, and though they hit the “century mark,” Klinghagen said he knows everyone by name.
“We’re just trying to have that all-encompassing environment where the community just wants to build within itself. We’ve done that so far, and it’s been steadily progressing,” he said. “Our member base is turning into basically a climbing family.”
One hour and sore arms later, the 605 team lined up to purchase some merch and check our climbing shoes back in. Several of us were already talking about coming back and getting to the next difficulty section.
Klinghagen said that mentality is what it’s all about.
“You’re able to find something in the gym that’s a little bit more comfortable for you, and then you get a little bit more confidence with the next climb,” he described. “Before you know it, you’re this really brave, confident climber in the gym, and you just feel like a different person.”