SPEARFISH — High Mountain Outfitters is bringing the first-ever Black Hills Climbing Festival to Spearfish July 13-14.
“Our hope is to connect and build upon the climbing community in the Black Hills,” said Justin Stephens, owner of High Mountain Outfitters, located at 740 N. Main St. in Spearfish. “The Black Hills has four world-class climbing areas, and we want to celebrate that fact. Climbing festivals are held in communities that value the outdoors, have local resources to support outdoor activities, and have a passion to share their community with others. Spearfish is all of that and more.”
The festival’s schedules include a community-building party, featuring locally-crafted food, beer, and music on Friday, and Saturday morning will see a climbing competition in the new climbing gym set to open in April, followed by outings to Devils Tower and Spearfish Canyon.
“Our new climbing facility will be the first full-service indoor climbing facility in western South Dakota,” Stephens said. “It will be comprised of three climbing walls, one of which will feature ‘crack climbing,’ which is the technique used on Devils Tower. Additionally, we will have two bouldering walls, a kid-friendly area, and a training area.”
Anyone ages 6 and older will be able to climb, he said.
The High Mountain Climbing Gym will be located at 1930 North Ave. in Spearfish, in the same building as Nelson Chiropractic, The Hot Room Yoga Studio, and Champion’s Choice Boxing.
“The space is absolutely perfect,” Stephens said. “One of the challenges in building a climbing gym is finding a space with high enough ceilings. Bjorn and Hans Nelson approached me with this idea, saying they had a vacant space with 25-foot ceilings. That whole building is filled with people interested in better health and wellness, and the climbing gym will only add to that mix.”
As the owner of the local outdoor and climbing store, Stephens had often heard people commenting that they wished the Black Hills had a true climbing gym. Additionally, interest from Black Hills State University students has been huge.
Instruction will be available at the gym, and the walls are being built by RockWerx of Massachusetts, and the equipment is being provided by Black Diamond. The gym’s staff members are all BHSU students, one of whom used to manage a climbing gym in California and all of whom are expert climbers.
“One of the main goals of our outdoor stores is to help people learn to appreciate and love the outdoors and outdoor activities,” Stephens said. “Winters are here are long, and having year-round climbing available will be a major boost to the sport in this area,” said Stephens.
He thanked the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and Kory Menken, SEDC executive director, for their support in building the climbing gym.
“SEDC is working very hard to encourage positive growth and vibrancy in Spearfish, and we are thrilled to partner with them,” Stephens said.
“SEDC is pleased we were able to partner with High Mountain Climbing Gym on this exciting new project,” Menken said. “As the only facility of its kind in the Black Hills, the climbing gym will attract climbers of all ages and levels of expertise to our community.”
He added that the venture will not only generate additional sales tax, but it also fits in nicely with SEDC’s initiative to recruit outdoor product manufacturing and retail companies to Spearfish.
“The High Mountain Climbing Gym and the upcoming Black Hills Climber’s Festival will build upon Spearfish’s existing outdoor recreation/active lifestyle appeal,” Menken said. “This project is a great example of how SEDC’s loan dollars have a ripple effect on the Spearfish economy.”
Menken added that SEDC offers multiple, low-interest loan programs including Spearfish Economic Revolving Fund (SERF) loans, Business Façade Rehabilitation loans, and the SEDC Capital Loan Program.
“These loan programs are designed to help create an enhanced and more fully developed economy in Spearfish,” he said, encouraging businesses to learn more about these opportunities by www.spearfishdevelopment.com/finance or by calling SEDC at 642-3832.
People can follow the building progress at High Mountain Climbing Gym on its Facebook page, and once the gym is open, more information will be available there and at 717-2457.
Written by Pioneer staff. Reprinted by permission of the Black Hills Pioneer