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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 heights: Making climbing accessible for everyone

Photo by Photo courtesy of Julia Lee

Biomedical sciences senior David Lee climbing the difficult cave wall at Stone Co. Climbing.

Sport climbing has become popular since its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In Tokyo, athletes had to compete in all three formats — bouldering, speed and lead — and the lowest combined results received the gold medal.
Amid the rising popularity, John Pritchard, Class of 2008, opened Stone Co. Climbing, an indoor climbing gym in College Station, in October 2021. There are only a few gyms in the area that offer climbing, including the Student Recreation Center on Texas A&M’s campus, which made Bryan-College Station a less competitive market to open a climbing gym.
“There are a few big differences [Stone Co. offers],” Pritchard said. “One is the amount of space. This is a large gym. Sometimes, it can get a little busy there in the Rec Center.”
Stone Co. emphasizes a mission of building a solid community through climbing.
“When you’re climbing, you’re only on the wall like 10% of the time,” Pritchard said. “The rest of the time, you are talking with the people around you.”
Unlike fitness gyms and weight rooms, climbing is a social sport. As the community aspect is essential in climbing, many different people visit the gym.
David Lee, a biomedical sciences senior, frequently visits the climbing gym with his membership.
“The staff are really friendly and passionate about climbing,” Lee said, who first got interested in climbing in high school through a friend. He periodically searched “climbing” on Google to find Bryan-College Station facilities and came across Stone Co. in December 2021.
“Climbing helps me to be goal-oriented and motivat[ed],” said Lee. “It is also about figuring out how to reach the goal. It’s been teaching me a lot about how to set a plan and how to reach that goal.”
The routes are changed every six weeks. Every Sunday, route setters block off a part of the climbing wall and change the route to create a new problem.
“They change the routes more often at Stone Co. compared to the Rec Center,” Lee said.
The atmosphere is also different.
“I was out in California; I drove up into the mountains and I saw a boulder there and it was really striking,” said Pritchard. “I set that picture as my background.”
Later, when he started on his climbing gym, Pritchard said he remembered that photo and used the inspiration to build a replica wall in the gym.
Millennials account for 65% of climbers in the United States, according to SGB Media, an industry and date site. There is a relatively even split in gender within those climbers, with 58% males and 42% females.
“We haven’t captured gender in our data, but it is more men, I think,” Pritchard said.
Stone Co. has women’s nights every Wednesday, where women pay 50% for the day passes.
Hayoung Jeon, a computer science graduate student, said she enjoys the climbing wall during women’s nights.
“For me, I used to worry a lot and I used to always think about something, but whenever I am climbing, I don’t have time to think about something else,” Jeon said. “All I can think about is how I should climb, so that’s the favorite part about climbing.”
In addition to the climbing walls, Stone Co. offers yoga classes and a fitness center.
“Climbing is about body movement, body control and flexibility, and so is yoga,” Pritchard said. “So, it really goes well together as a complete package.”
Stone Co. also has a training wall that is connected to a mobile phone app to set the difficulty and a route planner where the light comes on the board to bring in an unlimited number of routes.
Stone Co. Climbing hosted a movie night on Thursday, April 28, serving popcorn and fun at the gym, and for more information on community events held at its 777 Graham Road location in College Station, visit the gym’s website.

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