The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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New rock climbing gym to open this fall


Stone Co. Climbing Gym plans to offer climbing opportunities for people of all ages and skill levels. 

Stone Co. Climbing has plans to open this fall and the staff is thrilled to bring a new activity and open more opportunities to students. 

The gym is a 12,000 square foot facility that will provide boulder rock climbing and areas for yoga, weight and fitness, a seating area and retail space for patrons to buy rock climbing equipment. 

John Pritchard, owner of Stone Co. and Class of 2008, said he is excited to be back in College Station. After meeting his business partner Stewart Slack, the two have developed  business plans for over two years, Slack said COVID-19 pandemic’s surprised allowed them to consider various locations, eventually deciding on College Station. 

“When COVID[-19] hit, it paused what we were working on,” Pritchard said. “We really dove into locations even more, because we had a little extra time to do that.” 

Located off of Graham Road, Pritchard said the accessibility and growing environment in South College Station was the main reason why they settled on the location. The people helping to construct the building are climbers and have the same values that the business has, Pritchard said. 

“Our mission is building a strong community through indoor rock climbing,” Pritchard said. “It really is about getting with friends or making friends.” 

After brainstorming different names, Pritchard said they wanted the business to have a name with character. The Co. in the business name stands for company, but also community, Pritchard said. Their logo, a mountain goat, or Ibex, showcases the values the business wants to encourage like adventure, courage, boldness and fun through great climbing. 

“It almost mirrors our mission – building a strong community through climbing,” Pritchard said. 

Co-owner Stewart Slack said he started to spend more time at the available rock climbing gyms in Dallas after he graduated college. On a rock climbing trip with a friend, Slack began to talk about the growing popularity over the years in rock climbing gyms and started his own business plan. When he ran into Pritchard at church, Slack said they had a conversation about what he had been working on and the two met the next day to get started on the beginning of Stone Co. 

About 75 percent of the gym will be climbing bouldering space, Slack said. The gym will only offer bouldering, not top-rope rock climbing, Slack said. The bouldering area will explore the different levels on the v scale grading, and the routes will be rotated every month or so, Slack said. 

“If you are coming in for the first time, you are going to be climbing V0, but each grade is a big step forward so that keeps you coming back,” Slack said. “It keeps you motivated to get to the next level, and it is really a cool thing when you’ve been working on a problem for like two weeks and you finally get it.” 

The gym will offer both climbing and yoga classes, and the staff will all be climbers with different experience levels, Slack said. 

“For a lot of people I feel like they are missing out on life and connections with other people, and this is an opportunity to do that,” Slack said. “People come to climb but they stay for that community and for the people that they meet.” 

Maritza Bailey, events coordinator, said she works at Stone Co. on top of her job at the Office of Admissions for Texas A&M because of her passion for climbing and the people. Bailey said she plans on building a presence for Stone Co. through the business Instagram, Facebook and the website newsletter. 

For the grand opening, Stone Co. plans to partner with other local businesses as well as having giveaways and climbing demonstrations, Bailey said. The business plans on having themed nights for the different programs in the future, Bailey said. 

“[Pritchard and Slack] have invested their lives into this business,” Bailey said. “Their passion about bringing something to the community is great.”

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