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Climbing Wall Experience Coming to the Quad Cities

Construction is underway on what is being promoted as a world-class climbing gym open to climbers of all ages.

To be known as Gripstone Climbing, the 11,000-square-foot building will have more than 9,000 square feet of climbing walls. That’s because the 30-foot high ceilings and open interior give the gym designers complete flexibility in positioning walls and manmade boulders throughout.

Located at 319 N. Lee Blvd., in what was previously the Goodwill Store, the gym will be completed in late June, with the Grand Opening scheduled for July 19, said Cody Anne Yarnes, a co-owner and Gripstone spokesperson. Yarnes and her husband, Michael, also a co-owner, are Prescott College graduates and full-time residents of Prescott. She said purchase and construction-renovation costs likely will exceed $2 million to create challenging championship climbing experiences.

“The gym will have top rope climbing, lead climbing, wall and incline climbing and bouldering. We’ll be offering climbing classes, sponsor climbing teams and have all levels of climbing competitions, too,” said Yarnes.

In addition, the building will house a pro shop, locker rooms and showers, a yoga studio and a weight and fitness center. It also will have a small café and a room for private parties.

A prominent partner in Gripstone is Tony Yaniro, known the past 40 years throughout the climbing world as the “Father of Modern Sport Climbing.” Now a Prescott native, Yaniro and his wife, Beth, have been key figures in creating the state-of-the-art gym in Prescott. He has lived here in several years and Beth is a Prescott native.

Yaniro, a lean, fit 57-year-old, tells Quad Cities Business News that he started his climbing career as a nine-year-old kid at summer camp in California. “I found it exciting, challenging, enjoyable and athletic. I was hooked.”

In the years since, Yaniro has climbed some of the most challenging rock walls and mountains in the world, including famous climbs at Yosemite National Park. He has climbed in more than 15 countries, including most European nations, China and New Zealand.


A Sport for All Ages

Asked about age limits for climbing, Yaniro responded, “If you can climb a ladder, you can climb a wall.” He says that the levels of difficulty in Gripstone will range from very gentle slopes to quite challenging. “Our gym is designed to accommodate almost every demographic you can think of.”

Yaniro and Yarnes both say the trained professionals at Gripstone will closely monitor all participants. “The staff will constantly coach people and prevent any unnecessary risk-taking. In fact, we can say statistics show that bike riding is actually more dangerous than climbing.”

The gym will be open seven days week. Rental equipment will be available. Details about membership levels and costs are yet being developed, Yarnes said. QCBN


By Ray Newton, QCBN

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 Standing in front of an under-construction inclined climbing wall in the Gripstone Climbing gymnasium are co-owners Tony and Beth Yaniro, assistant manager Gary Bedlow and co-owners Cody Anne and Michal Yarnes. The high wall behind them is one of several currently being created to challenge climbers.

Photo by Ray Newton








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