Proposal unveiled for world-class climbing gym in Revelstoke

Ian Tomm and Fraser Sprigings want to build a World Cup-calibre climbing gym in Revelstoke.

Ian Tomm

Ian Tomm

A pair of rock climbing enthusiasts have come forward with a bold plan for climbing gym in Revelstoke.

Ian Tomm and Fraser Sprigings are proposing to build a World Cup-class climbing facility in the community.

“Our goals are really about Revelstoke as a place steeped in mountain culture,” Tomm told me during an interview last week. “How can Revelstoke play and participate in one of the fastest growing sports around the world?”

Tomm and Sprigings unveiled their plans to the Revelstoke Climbers Co-op at a meeting in late May. They will be holding a public open house at the community centre this Friday, June 10, from 7–9 p.m.

Their vision is to build a gym that would cater to locals and tourists, and be used to train competitors and host competitions.

To meet those goals, they need to build a wall that’s at least 17 metres tall, which means a building that’s six storeys high.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be super large, it just has to be tall enough and be large enough to accommodate a competition,” said Tomm.

Tomm and Sprigings bring different backgrounds to the project. Tomm is a guide and the former executive director of Avalanche Canada. He now heads up Heli-Cat Canada. Sprigings is a physiotherapist at Helios and has competed in cross-country skiing and triathlon at a national level.

They’re both avid climbers.

The idea of a climbing gym in Revelstoke is not new. The Revelstoke Climbers Co-op has been working to build one for several years now but has been unable to find a space. They recently split in two — the Revelstoke Climbers Access Society, which is focused on developing and maintaining outdoor climbing areas, and the co-op, which remains focused on the gym.

Tomm said they plan on working with the Co-op on their proposal. “There was an unbelievable sense of enthusiasm and support,” he said when asked about their presentation. “I see a future where the climbers co-op and the climbers access society are very closely involved.”

Tomm and Sprigings are looking at climbing gyms around Western Canada to base their business model on. He cited the gym in Canmore as a great success story — one that was built for locals but has become a major tourist draw.

The other one he noted is the Boulders Gym in Central Saanic on Vancouver Island. Tomm cited that one as a great example of a public-private partnership where the city and school district were on board. The gym features an 18-metre climbing wall, 1,200 square-metres of climbing space and has a variety of athlete development programs.

Tomm said the key will be to tap into the tourism market and make it a draw for people coming to the community.

“If we find a way to develop a rich and meaningful public-private partnership, the facility will be running a tourism destination business, and likely a high-volume one. What does that mean?” he said. “I think that means a revenue stream to empower the local climbing community.”

The concept has been gestating for a couple years now, said Tomm. Now he and Sprigings are hoping to move it forward. The June 10 meeting is a starting point. “Let’s figure out how we can make it happen as a community,” Tomm said.

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