New climbing gym to be built in Fort Collins

Madison Brandt

An updated image of the Ascent Studio Climbing Gym exterior created by RB+B Architects. The gym will span 18,000-square-feet and will reach 50-feet high.
An updated image of the Ascent Studio Climbing Gym exterior created by RB+B Architects. The gym will span 18,000-square-feet and will reach 50-feet high. (Photo credit: RB+B Architects)

Plans for a new climbing gym in Fort Collins are finally confirmed, exciting some and unsettling others within the climbing community.

Jon Lachelt, a climber for nearly 28 years, plans to build an 18,000-square-foot climbing gym on Timberline Road called Ascent Studio. Ascent Studio will have 37 to 47-foot walls, a wide variety of bouldering, a weight training room, yoga classes and birthday parties.

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The plan began about 10 years ago when Lachelt decided he needed a change from his long-time engineering job at Hewlett-Packard. He began researching different facets of the climbing industry, eventually attending several Climbing Wall Association conferences held in Boulder.

According to Lachelt, he liked the idea of a climbing wall because it provides people, including himself, with a supportive, social community that is encouraging and exciting.

“Our goal is that everyone who walks in the door feels welcomed and inspired,” Lachelt said. “I want this to be a place with lots of natural light, high ceilings and open where people can come and socialize.”

Ascent Studio will be the joining the current Fort Collins climbing gyms Inner Strength, Miramont and the Colorado State University Recreation Center.

Mike Hicky, a climber for over 40 years and owner of Inner Strength Rock Gym, believes the addition of Ascent Studio to the Fort Collins community will be tough on all three gyms once it opens.

Hicky said once the new gym opens, he plans to continue doing his job the best he can.

“By making the best routes, by being friendly and by giving the customers the best experience I can give … I will do that until I no longer can,” Hicky said.

In contrast, Andy Nelson, the coordinator of the climbing wall and outdoor program at CSU, said he is unconcerned with the addition of a fourth climbing gym to the Fort Collins community.

“The mission of the CSU wall will always remain the same, which is to offer a welcoming and accessible way for students to get introduced to climbing and other outdoor activities,” Nelson said.

According to Nelson, Ascent Studio will provide a positive variety in climbing gym options for the Fort Collins community.

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“People tend to gravitate towards the gym that has the culture they like,” Nelson said. “So more variety in any town is awesome— more to choose from.”

Currently, Ascent Studio is in the middle stages of design, which is being created by Joe Hosek, an architect for the local RB+B architect group. Preliminary plans show a wide spread of lead climbing and top roping walls, a slightly more secluded wall for private parties and a 40-foot-long bouldering ramp.

Lachelt hopes to break ground in April or May, with the goal of being open by the end of 2015. To follow the construction and development of Ascent Studio, visit their Facebook page.

Collegian Reporter Madison Brandt can be reached at news@collegian.com and on Twitter @Mademia_93.