By Shelley Widhalm | Renderings courtesy Climbing Collective
The Longmont Climbing Collective has grown so fast, it already needs a new building and is adding two new locations.
Now called the Climbing Collective, the bouldering gym is in Longmont, Loveland and Greeley.
“Our initial name was based on one location in Longmont,” said Bryan Hylenski, owner and founder of the Climbing Collective. “It felt more natural to have a brand or business name that wasn’t specific to one city.”
The Climbing Collective, founded in 2018 and rebranded in April 2023, combines a bouldering gym with a yoga studio and fitness area open seven days a week for drop-in visits or monthly memberships.
“We are moving from an existing gym in Longmont to a $10 million facility,” Hylenski said. “The Longmont facility will be the premier facility in all of Colorado.”
The gym will reopen in September in a larger space, expanding from 14,000 to 25,000 square feet of building area and 7,000 to 26,000 square feet of bouldering walls custom designed and built by Vertical Solutions. Bouldering involves free climbing without the use of ropes or harnesses on small rock formations or artificial rock walls, like the ones at the gym.
“The new one is built for everybody. It’s enormous,” Hylenski said.
The Longmont gym will sit on 12 acres at 155 Pinnacle St., overlooking the Front Range across from the Sandstone Ranch. Seven of the acres will be grass and used for a viewing area, event overflow parking and festival fields. The events will center around a 60-foot climbing wall, one of the first in the nation, where there will be climbing competitions, music and community festivals, food truck nights, and fitness clinics and workshops.
“Not only will the new building have tons of routes indoors on our 60-foot wall, but climbers will be able to scale our outdoor wall, look over their shoulders and see the Rocky Mountains,” said Aaron Tellier, co-owner and marketing director of the Climbing Collective. “We believe that’s going to provide a special kind of inspiration for the next generation of climbers.”
Inside the gym, there will be bouldering and climbing areas with adjustable hydraulic walls, a speed wall and climbing ropes, as well as fitness equipment, a youth climbing zone, a yoga studio and a recovery room with a sauna and plunge pools. There also will be a full retail area stocked with climbing shoes and gear, a patio for working out and socializing, and a self-serve bar with beers on tap, charged to an account connected to a wrist band.
“Climbing has become so social that people want things to do. They want to have a drink and have events,” Hylenski said. “Alcohol allows us to add additional things they can do with their friends and family.”
The bouldering walls in the gym will be moved to the Greeley location, which is scheduled to open in December at a cost of $5 million. The walls there will be re-decked with wood with the metal and hardware recycled, while the walls in Longmont will be all new.
“Greeley has never had a gym, so it’s like brand new walls to them because they haven’t climbed on our walls in Longmont,” Hylenski said.
The Loveland gym is already open in a converted gym. It has bouldering, fitness classes and yoga, while the Greeley location, converted from an old movie theater, will have bouldering walls and fitness, yoga and retail areas.
“A gym brings together folks who love to … challenge themselves and push hard and see the value in fitness,” Hylenski said. “It’s a whole lifestyle, not just on the weekends. … Climbing has changed a lot. It’s become about the community.”
Hylenski, a climber for 20 years, moved to Longmont in 1999, leaving for overseas work and returning later. As the climbing community grew, he knew Longmont could afford to have a local bouldering gym without forcing climbers to drive to Boulder, making the sport accessible, safer and lower cost, he said.
“The buzzwords these days is community, and that’s our primary focus,” Hylenski said. “We focus on customer service and building community.”
Hylenski tried to build the Longmont gym twice in 2008 and 2013 but outside circumstances did not make it viable—he finally could open it in 2018. He purchased land in 2019 planning to open the gym in 2020, but the pandemic pushed that dream back a couple of years, he said.
“We had to build a smaller, nice following of people,” Hylenski said. “We knew if we didn’t do it, someone else would.”