Summit Climbing Gym ready to reopen after closure affects tight-knit community |

Summit Climbing Gym ready to reopen after closure affects tight-knit community

Zach Rocco is pictured Wednesday, June 3, at the Summit Climbing Gym in Silverthorne.
Liz Copan /

SILVERTHORNE — Much like other recreation and fitness centers across the county, the Summit Climbing Gym cooperative in Silverthorne is ready to reopen with novel coronavirus precautions once they get the thumbs-up from county and state government.

A new public health order released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment does just that, and county spokesperson Julie Sutor said Summit plans to align with the state.

Cooperative board member Zach Rocco said Thursday that when the gym reopens on June 22, it plans to do so with a maximum of 10 people inside the facility at a time, with the potential to bump up to 15 if facility operators deem it is spaced out enough and safe.

“I get texts every week asking when we are going to be opening again because it is a tight-knit community in Summit County,” Rocco said. “This is where people first met a lot of their friends in the county. It’s definitely been a big blow to the community. But the demand is there. There are a lot of longtime members excited to get back in.”

Rocco said climbing, which at first will be open only to existing members, will be on a first-come, first-served basis and that climbers will be able to reserve two-hour blocks. The gym will be open from 5-9 p.m. on weekdays only.

After being admitted by a co-op volunteer at the door, climbers will sanitize their hands before climbing the co-op’s walls. Rocco said climbers also will be required to wear facial coverings while climbing.

As for cleaning and sanitizing the walls climbers scale, Rocco said the gym will increase its cleansing and sanitizing protocols.

Rocco said the gym typically peaks at close to 200 members each winter before declining by about half each summer. Whatever demand the gym sees, he’s grateful it will be able to reopen. The climbing gym has been closed since March 13.

The Summit Climbing Gym in Silverthorne is gearing up for reopening, as pictured Wednesday, June 3.
Liz Copan /

Because the gym is a not-for-profit, Rocco said it’s been difficult to get financial help, though a grant from the town of Silverthorne helped with utilities and rent. He said solid savings for the co-op also helped to get through the shutdown, as did the nature of the co-op’s business model where staff are volunteers, equating to no payroll expenses.

As for the climbing community, he said the shutdown has been a challenge across the country. For weeks, popular outdoor climbing destinations, such as Rifle Mountain Park in Rifle, were shut down. The closures led climbers, including Rocco, to spend exorbitant amounts of time on their hang boards at home. When climbing on those got old, many climbers got creative to find things around the house to train on.

“There’s been some funny videos circulating of people climbing whatever they can climb in their house — cabinets, chairs,” Rocco said. “Even for those climbers who live in vans, I’ve even seen them climbing all around their van as a joke.”

Rocco said local climbers are eager to get back into the gym after scratching their climbing itch of recent on the more mellow White Cliff natural rock climbing terrain in Tenmile Canyon that became void of winter’s snow at the end of April.

“We are all real rusty right now,” Rocco said. “We definitely can’t wait for the gym to get back open.”

The Summit Climbing Gym in Silverthorne is gearing up for reopening, as pictured Wednesday, June 3.
Liz Copan /

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