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Climb Base5 owner Daniel Poggi on what it takes to run a climbing gym and why sport climbing is gaining in popularity

As a longstanding member of the Vancouver climbing community, Dan has and still continues to give back to the community. With Climb Base5, the largest rock climbing gym in Metro Vancouver, he’s not only created an athletic facility that provides exceptional customer service, but a place that is about fitness and fun as it is about community and culture. Here’s how he got into the business and why he thinks sport climbing is gaining in popularity.

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On owning and operating an indoor climbing gym…

I was introduced to climbing through a high school friend. Climbing became an instant obsession. All of my time was devoted to developing myself both mentally and physically. When I opened my first gym in 2002, I was able to attribute climbing to pretty much everything I had. It consisted of my livelihood, my wife and first child, and my association with an awesome community whom I regarded as my group of close friends. It was the start of my vision of giving back to the community that had provided so much for me.

Operating a climbing gym is surprisingly labor intensive. There are many moving parts, and the organization required to make it work seamlessly requires great staff and leadership. Our focus is to develop and support our community, and our operations reflect that – a mix of trained belayers, dedicated and friendly desk staff, coaches, route-setters, safety and operations technicians, and administrative and business-oriented managers. We have a strong focus on integrating new climbers and helping them to become self-sufficient and develop their own experiences, and our programming reflects that goal. We continuously tweak our operations and programming to meet the needs of our always-evolving community, which consists of beginners and elite athletes in all age ranges. It’s a complex balance to meet the needs of all our community.

My advice if anyone wants to add a climbing wall to their business? Start by assessing why you want to provide climbing for your members and ask yourself whether your target market connects with climbing and its core values.

On why sport climbing has become so popular recently…

Indoor climbing was traditionally created for training in the off-season. Climbers could maintain a sport-specific fitness program when the rock was wet or frozen without having to travel to warmer destinations for extended periods of time. While climbing still has an element of danger associated with it, climbing gyms provide the experience in a controlled environment for the mainstream to enjoy. With increasingly interest in the sport, the current community is also very diverse and has varying objectives and goals. There is a growing group of climbers that do not have aspirations to climb or boulder outdoors. This group has limited time due to family/work obligations that don’t facilitate climbing outdoors. With this, the gym also provides a great social and athletic experience and can be a full-service facility to meet their specific needs which the outdoors cannot provide.

On the benefits of having a community…

With climbing being introduced in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the level of competition will continue to improve. As a result, there are and will be many strong competitors, and often the difference between winning and losing is having the support of your team. Teamwork has been the difference for both our adult performance team and junior level competitors, who have taken podiums in every category at nationals this year. Our head coach Andrew Wilson and assistant coach and physiotherapist Len Chong have also developed a cohesive and supportive environment for our athletes, particularly the Open Performance Team, to develop themselves physically and mentally.

This is an edited version of the full interview by Accurofit

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Here comes summer and our camps!

Our popular summer camps are back! These combo climbing camps have become a staple and the standard response to “what should I do with my kids?” that parents often ask themselves as summer approaches.

This summer we’ll be offering our always fun and adventurous half-day climbing fundamentals camp, our rockin’ rad cycling camp with iRide/Cycling BC, and our jolly jumping gymnastics camp with Club Aviva.

Pick a camp (or two)… just remember to sign up fast as spaces are limited!

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Half-day Climbing Fundamentals

Increase the fun this summer and find excitement and adventure with our awesome Summer Break Camps. Our program covers the basics of setting up and managing climbing safety systems, and provides instruction and coaching on the basics of climbing movement. Each day’s lesson features fun games and activities that help anchor new skills. Our coaches will inspire and challenge campers to reach their full potential and climb with confidence!

Camp Details

  • Cost: $225 + gst
  • Times: 9:00am – 1:00pm
  • Ages: 7-15 years

Dates

  • Week 1 – July 10th – 14th
  • Week 2 – July 17th – 21st
  • Week 3 – July 24th – 28th
  • Week 4 – July 31st – August 4th
  • Week 5 – August 14th – 18th
  • Week 6 – August 21st – 25th

Register here: https://www.climbbase5.com/book/half-day-summer-camp


Climbing + Cycling Camp

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Our week-long full day summer camp from July 31st to August 4th, 2017 offers a great introduction to climbing and multi-discipline biking. This camp combines both indoor and outdoor activities and partners with Cycling BC’s iRide program.

We’ve partnered with Cycling BC’s iRide program to provide a week-long full-day biking & rock climbing camp that offers a fun, safe, educational and exciting introduction to rock-climbing and multi-discipline biking.

Each day participants will start with a iRide cycling session and learn how to ride a velodrome bicycle, learn BMX jumps and perfect their mountain bike skills. In the afternoon, participants will be learning how to belay, top-rope and climb faster than ever before at Climb Base5. Each day includes 3hrs of cycling and 3hrs of rock climbing.

Camp Details

  • July 31st – August 4th, 2017
  • 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • $319 + GST
  • Ages: 9 – 12 years old
  • All equipment provided
  • Drop-off at Climb Base5 each day at 9am
  • Pick-up at Climb Base5 each day at 4pm

Register here: https://www.climbbase5.com/book/iride-camp


Climbing + Gymnastics Camp

We’re working out the details with Club Aviva. Check back soon or sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook or Instagram

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When life gives you bad holds… you just have to use them.

Natural-born climber… that’s one way to describe Tosh Sherkat. Born and raised by climber parents in Nelson, BC, Tosh has been part of the BC climbing community ever since he was a toddler. The 18-year old has come a long way from his BC roots and is now a seasoned traveler, competitor and Climb Base5 Open Performance team member. We caught up with Tosh in between his travels and competitive season to learn about what gets him fired up.

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How did you get into climbing?
I’ve been climbing for over 14 years, probably since I could start walking. It’s something that has been a part of me because my parents were climbers and so I was always surrounded by the climbing culture and community. As I got older, it felt like an obvious progression to join the youth climbing team in Nelson. Since then, there hasn’t been really much doubt that climbing is what I love, a part of me, and something that I want to grow with, develop and excel at.

As a climber and competitor, how do you stay focus?
One of the benefits of being on a team has been to work closely and have access to coaches like Andrew Wilson and Matt Johnson. They’ve helped me to develop strategies to focus and calm myself before getting on big climbs or going out to compete. I don’t want to share all my secrets, but deep breathing and visualization has been part of my training routine! With regular training and coaching, I find it easier to focus and I don’t think so much about it. It also helps a lot to be around other athletes where we push each other to get better – it gives me more drive to focus and train as hard as I can!

With your drive to be a better climber, how will you take your climbing to the next level?
While physical training will always make you a stronger climber, I need to adapt and be mentally stronger so that I take the energy and focus I put into training and use it when competing. Personally, I believe that being a better climber comes from being more confident as a person.

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How do you approach challenges in life? Does climbing help?
There are so many metaphors between climbing technique and life. I have to say that my favorite is the “when life gives you lemons” parallel. For me it basically means that no matter how bad the hold is, you just have to use it. In life and in climbing, I try to take as many perspectives as I can when facing challenges. Hearing from others or seeing a problem from a different angle really helps me find a way to solve it. I really enjoy dedicating myself to a challenge until it’s finished… Maybe sometimes the beta is just trying really, really hard!

Climbing is such a huge part of me and my everyday life so being able to know how to focus and commit myself entirely to something is one of the biggest lessons and skills that climbing has taught me.

So it must mean a lot to you to be on the Climb Base5 Open Performance Team?
I was so excited when I made it onto the team this season… it’s been a journey. Last year I applied to be on the team, but when it came to the selection camp I realized that I wasn’t ready and so did the coaches. But with some guidance and additional training, I’ve made huge improvements to my physical and mental abilities. It’s probably why this year was my time and I’m really enjoying the coaching and teamwork where all the team members can improve as a climber and as a person.

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With such a long history of climbing, what are the highlights for you?
There are so many that it’s hard to pick! One of the fondest memories was when I came fifth at Nationals in Youth B and made the national team as an alternate. This was the first year I competed so to make the national team was such an amazing experience. Ground Up also has a special place in my highlight reel because it’s where I won my first local competition (Route Comp 2016) and where I reached my first open bouldering final (6th place at the 2016 bouldering competition). This season I was able to stand on the Youth National podium (in bouldering), which has been a huge goal of mine for as long as I’ve been competing. As for the outdoors, ‘Churning in the Wake’, my first 5.13 in Smith Rock.

What don’t we know about you?
For one, I don’t live in the Lower Mainland but I’m based out in Squamish. And when I say that climbing is part of life, it’s true because I moved five times when I was in high school just to be able to climb! Last but not least, most people are surprised when I tell them I’m a musician. I play guitar, sing, and write music. Last but not least, my sister, Tula is also a competitive climber, competing it the Youth C category!

Last weekend I was on the island completing my Climbing Gym Instructor Level 1 course🗒✏ . Besides now being certified to run lessons and belay tests, it also furthers my education into how to be a better coach. . Dedicating more time to being youth climbing team coach is a huge future goal, and pictured here is my sister, and longest standing athlete @tula.sherkat feeling some "post-round relief". . 📸@kingkatken . #sportclimbing #coaching #youthcompetitiveteam #liveyourdreams #bouldering #eatsleepclimbrepeat #climbing_is_my_passion #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #climbonsquamish #e9clothing #e9climbing #e9canada #grippedmagazine #doyouclimb #competitionclimbing #outdoorlifestyle @climbbase5gym @e9_team_canada @climbonsquamish @climbgroundup

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Follow climber/musician/singer songwriter Tosh on Facebook and Instagram.

This is part of a series to profile the 2016/2017 Open Performance Team members.

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Youth program registration opens March 15th

Registration for the courses that make up our youth development program opens to the public on Tuesday, March 15th. The courses for the Spring session will run for 12 weeks from April to June 2017. Make sure to visit our Booking page from March 15th to reserve your spot!

Space for our youth development courses is normally limited to 12 spots per course!

Visit our booking page to register for one of our youth development courses!

The courses include the introductory courses, Climbing FUNdamentals, and the more advanced courses, Development Team and Performance 4 Life. See below for details of each course.

Climbing FUNdamentals 1

This course is for anyone who has never learned to belay before or participated in previous Climbing FUNdamentals courses.

Climbing FUNdamentals 1 is the starting point to your climbing development and journey! Participants will be introduced to basics of the sport climbing including operating the ropes and safety systems (belaying), safe climbing and falling skills, and climbing movement skills. Concepts are presented through games, drills and group activities.

  • Ages: 8-12 years old
  • Course Length: 12 weeks, 1 session per week, 1.5 hours/session
  • Course Days: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Sunday
  • Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday), 10:00am – 11:30am (Sunday)
  • Dates: April 1 – June 30, 2017
  • Cost: $225
  • Prerequisites: None

Climbing FUNdamentals 2

This course is where your climbing development and journey continues! Participants will be build on skills and knowledge from the previous level 1 class. Participants will be introduced to new skills such as intermediate movement skills and basic training organization (warm-up, postural conditioning and climbing specific drills).

  • Ages: 8-12 years old
  • Course Length: 12 weeks, 1 session per week, 1.5 hours/session
  • Course Days: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday or Sunday
  • Time: 5:30pm – 7:00pm (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday), 11:30am – 1:00pm (Sunday)
  • Dates: April 1 – June 30, 2017
  • Cost: $225
  • Prerequisites: Climbing FUNdamentals 1 or equivalent knowledge of climbing safety systems (belaying)

Development Team

The development team is geared toward athletes looking to learn about and prepare for climbing competitions and performance climbing. In this program, coaches will introduce sport specific training and skill development activities. Skill mastery and enjoyment remain the primary objectives. Development Team athletes are encouraged to compete 2-4 times per season. Additional coaching fees for competitions may apply.

  • Ages: 11-15
  • Course Length: 12 weeks, 2 sessions per week*, 2.5 hours/session
  • Course Days: Monday, Thursday, Sunday
  • Time: Monday and Thursday: 4:00-6:30pm, Sunday: 9:00-11:30am
  • Dates: April 1 – June 30, 2017
  • Cost: $450
  • Prerequisites: Climbing FUNdamentals or Coaches approval

Performance4Life Team

As the name suggests, this team is focused on climbing performance. It is intended for athletes who would like to continue pursuing personal performance, but who do not wish to compete on a regular basis. Performance4Life team athletes are encouraged to compete. Additional coaching fees for competitions may apply.

  • Ages: 13-19
  • Course Length: 12 weeks, 2 sessions per week*, 2.5 hours/session.
  • Course Days: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
  • Time: Wednesday and Friday: 4:00 – 6:30pm, Sunday: 9:00-11:30am
  • Dates: April 1 – June 30, 2017
  • Cost: $450
  • Prerequisites: Climbing FUNdamentals or Development Team, and coaches recommendation.

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Visit our booking page to register for one of our youth development courses!

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Alannah and JJ’s podium finish was a team effort

Canada’s top climbers came together last weekend to compete in the 2017 Open Boulder Nationals in Edmonton. This included some of our team athletes who crushed it individually and as a team!

Not only did JJ Mah come back from a climbing hiatus to claim 2nd spot on the podium, five of our athletes made the top 20 in the women’s category, including Alannah Yip taking her second consecutive Canadian national title!

Climb Base5’s team head head coach Andrew Wilson, who is still beaming from the results of the Youth Boulder Nationals in February, contributes the success of the individual athletes to the time, effort and support in coming together as a team.

I’m proud of Alannah and JJ. They came this far and got to the podium with the support from all the team members. What am I most proud of? The whole team.

Men’s Open (63 competitors)

  • JJ Mah (2nd)
  • Kyle Murdoch (20th)
  • Tosh Sherkat (21st)
  • Ivan Luo (29th)
  • Derek Runions (40th)
  • Hojin Jo (48th)
  • Hayden Jones (50th)

Women’s Open (47 competitors)

  • Alannah Yip (1st – her second national title)
  • Maria Celkova (7th)
  • Tiffany Melius (8th)
  • Sophie Buitendyk (12th)
  • Mika Hosoi (20th)

For the full results, visit the Comp Season website.

… and how can we forget Climb Base5 Open team member and routesetter Simon Parton, who challenged competitors with incredible, creative and beautiful boulders!