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‘Climb Nittany’ Indoor Rock Climbing Facility Creates Community Hub In Boalsburg

If you’re craving an adrenaline rush or a place to finally ~feel~ something, head on over to Climb Nittany, Boalsburg’s indoor climbing gym.

If you’re a brand-new climber, Climb Nittany is the perfect space for trying something new and out of your comfort zone. When it comes to regular climbers, this is the ideal place to get your technique down.

The facility houses a boulder island and 10,000 square feet of climbing wall. Housed in Penn State’s backyard, Climb Nittany was built to bring together a community that needed a place to train. Centre County has a massive number of climbers, so the location for indoor boulders was a no-brainer.

The Climb Nittany dream originated a few years ago and was a “staggered process.” Manager Michael Moloney and the owner of ORGANIC CLIMBING, Josh Helke, lived in the State College area and recognized the need for “a hub” where all climbers could meet.

It wasn’t until Moloney started to work with 5.Life, the umbrella organization with which Climb Nittany is affiliated, that construction plans came together. In 2018, the entire construction process was underway.

Mark Grummun, one of Climb Nittany’s managers and head coaches, got involved in 2019. Throughout the trials and tribulations of the pandemic, Climb Nittany successfully opened in October 2020.

As Climb Nittany made its place in Boalsburg, Grummun also took a position as a lead route setter.

For context, route setting is when the holds on the boulder or area that is climbed are switched out to create new patterns. 5.Life has a head route setter that oversees the majority Grummun takes on. In Boalsburg, Grummun decides what exact routes individuals will climb. The routes also fall under the International Federation for Sports Climbing.

Grummun has climbed since he was 8 years old. Growing up, his mom worked at a gym that had an indoor climbing facility. As climbing became more popular, he grew with it. From Rocky Mountain National Park to Smith Rock, Grummun has made his mark on many boulders.

“It has been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember,” Grummun said. “Climbing was something I always loved to do. There is never a time I don’t want to do it.”

When it comes to indoor sport climbing and bouldering, Climb Nittany is his top choice.

“Climbing is a lot bigger than it used to be,” Grummun said. “Indoor climbing and sports climbing are still pretty new concepts.”

The gym provides a size that many aren’t used to. The gym has “a ton to offer without being too big.” Climb Nittany has utilized its space to the fullest, especially throughout the pandemic.

Because the sport is fairly new and people are still building their skills, the facility changes the route patterns each week. As time goes on, the climbing wall is entirely unique and “never the same.”

“There are some routes we keep up for two to three months, while there are some we change weekly,” Grummun said. “It gives people something to work on.”

As there are so many different rock climbing and bouldering options, the facility’s mission is to make the space all-inclusive. “Helping Everyone Climb” and “Building Community Through Movement” are the mottos each staff member implements.

“We want to be very beginner-friendly and demographically welcoming,” Grummun said. “We understand that not everyone wants to be a climbing athlete.”

Climb Nittany offers all programs for high-level training, group lessons, and youth level and senior citizen classes. Even if you want to test the waters, there are walk-in packages that let you try out the facility for one day.

If you want to feel more at ease, certified staff members can guide you while you scale the wall. For more advanced climbers, there are options to climb completely on your own.

Like any other gym, a membership is also offered at Climb Nittany. A built-in workout area is also installed within the facility for any fitness, yoga, training, and more. Anyone who is a member at Climb Nittany also has bottomless “new climber” passes.

“Climb Nittany is built to foster and serve the community,” Grummun said. “We hope to continue to grow that and have a great place for our members to find themselves here.”

Along with the programs, member trainings, classes, and lessons offered at Climb Nittany, the gym also extends the welcome to students. Every third Friday of the month, college students have access to discounted day passes.

On Tuesday, October 26, Climb Nittany will host a one-year anniversary celebration at the facility that’s open to the public. Shortly after the celebration, the facility will host a Halloween Headlamp Bouldering night on Saturday, October 30. The gym will shut off its lights while climbers maneuver with only headlamps and costumes.

In early December, Climb Nittany will host a youth and adult climbing competition. The USA Climbing League will come to compete in Happy Valley, where the gym will strip all its routes and create a competitive routine.

“We have waited a long time for all of our events,” Grummun said. “Climb Nittany wants to reward the community for being here and adapting with us.”

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About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Pirates fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her at: [email protected]

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