It has been about a month since The Edge Climbing and Fitness opened and it is exactly what owner Ammon Hartner hoped it would be.
Hartner owns the gym, located at 2844 East 14 North, east of North Hitt Road, in Ammon, with his brother Jake.
“I’m seeing people coming in for the first time, having never climbed before, not sure what to expect, and then they quickly discover it’s something they can do; they’re having a good time, and by the time they leave they’re happy and smiling and they want to come back again,” Hartner said. “There’s something for everybody no matter who you are, and so it’s worked out just as we have hoped.”
Gym manager Jessica Knoelk also is excited seeing new people experiencing the culture of climbing.
“This gives them a chance to experience something new and it gives our community a chance to have rock climbing become a new culture for our area, which is needed,” she said. “It’s definitely needed. We need more people getting outside, more people doing physical activities that are fun and engaging and well worth it.”
Hartner encourages anyone at any fitness level to come try out rock climbing.
“I’d say if you can climb a ladder, you can climb in here; we have something for you,” he said.
He also said the more experienced climbers aren’t intimidating. “They’re here to be supportive and have fun, and encourage others.”
The Edge fills a niche in the community following this winter’s closure of the YMCA climbing gym.
The Edge has a variety of routes for all experience levels and climbing abilities, and Knoelk said new new customers will get a tour and explanation of how everything works, from the point system to the equipment.
They also change out the routes about every eight weeks to help with variety as well, Knoelk said.
“When you go into a lot of other rock gyms, they are very stagnant, once you’ve climbed those routes you’ve climbed those routes,” she said. “We want to make it so that way it’s fun and engaging and, so once you’ve mastered so many routes, you have the opportunity to try something new each time.”
Sharina Beutler has been bringing her children to the gym for about a week, but has already been there five times.
She has been to three or four different climbing gyms but said the Edge is a notch above.
“They have tons of different climbs, lots of different walls, they have the self-belays, they have the child area, and then they have a lot that you climb up and over, so there’s a lot of variety here compared to other gyms,” she said.
Beutler likes bringing her children to the Edge because it’s a way to keep them active in the cold weather and a way for them to challenge themselves.
For example, on Saturday her 4-year-old son Isaac made made it up to the ‘D’ on the alphabet wall.
“It’s a good place to challenge them because it’s like ‘you can go up to the ‘I’, you can go up to the ‘J.’ Today while I was talking, I didn’t realize it, he went all the way to the top, and it’s just so fun for him because he did it and he’s going all the way to the top now,” she said.
Beutler’s son Braydon said he likes climbing because it’s challenging to find new routes on the walls.
“My favorite part of it is probably the self-belays. We used to go to the old YMCA one but they didn’t have self-belays or let you belay yourself so I think this is really good and perfect,” he said.
Beutler is also appreciative of the staff at the Edge.
“They are probably the best staff that I’ve ever worked with at a climbing gym. Like really anywhere, because it’s hard to bring a lot of kids in at once and have people be family friendly,” she said. “But they’ve been really patient and good and really helpful in helping with all the kids and so the staff is really awesome.”
Knoelk said she likes having the gym open late.
“For me personally, I worked several years in juvenile corrections and I like to see the fact that we have that age group, of where they normally start getting into trouble, they’re coming in, they’re climbing, they’re creating a good positive peer culture within our establishment and coming and climbing and it’s cool, it’s fun,” she said. “We’ve had teenagers come and climb up until midnight right when we close. So to me I see that as a benefit for our community.”
The Edge also will begin offering classes for all experience levels, as well as after-school clubs and teams for kids. The staff is even planning on starting an advanced team that will travel and compete.
“We have a class or a program for everyone whether you just want the social aspect of climbing and doing something and fun, or if you really want to get strong and compete, it’s whatever is right for you,” Hartner said.
“The gym is what you make of it, it’s a great place to have fun for date and spending time with your kids or you can work out and get strong — use it how it fits you and your lifestyle,” he said.