Climbing walls

BOULDER — Some people climb trees, some climb corporate ladders. In the eyes of Jered Wells, the best choice is to climb walls.

As chief executive of Eldorado Climbing Walls, Wells describes the industry as booming, noting that nationally there are upward of 40 commercial climbing walls in the works. That’s a jump from only five annually in recent years.

Although Eldorado Walls isn’t handling the creation of all 40, the company has a fair number of the accounts, Wells said.

Why the rise in popularity?

“People are starting to realize that indoor rock climbing isn’t as extreme a sport as they once thought it was,” he added. “”When it’s done right, it’s a fun, relaxing form of fitness that’s terribly social.”
Eldorado Walls recently finished a 7,000-square-foot climbing wall for the University of Colorado-Boulder’s recreation center expansion project.

Having been in business since 1994, the company’s staff jumped at the chance to design and build the CU wall.

“In Boulder, we have a sophisticated community so there were between four and 20 people talking at different times about what they wanted in the climbing wall,” Wells said. “CU had done a lot of research so they had a fair budget established – about $350,000 for the climbing wall and flooring.”

Before responding to a request for proposal for the project, Wells said they focused on clarifying CUs expectations.

That included understanding what size groups would be using the climbing wall, what disciplines would be taught using it and what features would help the university meet future needs.

Eldorado Climbing Walls worked with a group of companies in addition to CU on the project.
CannonDesign in St. Louis was the architect firm in charge of the entire rec center renovation, Davis Partnership Architects in Denver was CannonDesign’s local firm to be available for needs as they arose, and Saunders Construction, also in Denver, served as the contractor for the larger renovation.
As a team, they pulled off a feat that included working with and around one of Colorado’s larger natural disasters: the floods of 2013.

“When we finally were able to get onsite there was up to two feet of water in the space,” Wells said. “The dry wall had to be torn out and put back in around – we really had to all work together.

“There are only so many lifts that can go into a space and still be functional.”

Adding more crew members and working longer hours helped Eldorado Climbing Walls and the other groups make the deadline.

“Saunders had to release the building to the owners the first of January,” Wells added. “We were wrapped up, buttoned up and signed off in time – just before the end of the year.”

From contract to final stages of the installation, Eldorado Climbing Walls spent six months on the project.

“We’re a turn-key company and do design, fabrication, engineering and installation,” Wells said. In addition to college settings, the company’s markets include municipalities, military, commercial gyms and high-end residential.

General costs for a climbing wall from Eldorado span a wide range depending on material selection and scope of the project.

Six panels for an average wall runs $6,000 to $8,000. Typical collegiate climbing walls range from $150,000 to $250,000. Average climbing gym walls ring in at about $250,000 to $1 million.

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