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By Lance S
From Maryville, TN
Mar 13, 2013
On top of the first pitch of the Nose
So this post is in no way a post to defame Knoxville Climbing Center. I cut my climbing teeth there several years ago.

So I just moved back to Knoxville a few months ago and thought I would check out the gym for some sport climbing. When I asked about the lead routes, one of the employees said that the lead routes had not been changed in the two years that he had been working there. He then said that they are more of a bouldering gym and that if they want to sport climb they just go outside. Personally, I am not able to go outside to the Obed after I get off of work on weekdays and sometimes the rain keeps me off of the moderates I so love. I know some people don't like gym climbing, but I have been able to improve substantially through gyms. I will say that the bouldering is pretty good, but the entire right section of TR routes is a cluster of holds with beginner routes and there are entire sections of wall that are not utilized.

So to my point, it is not my business to tell them how to run their gym. But after reading a post about bouldering gyms the other day, someone made a good point about limiting your market of climbers to just boulderers. Sport climbers would bring in additional revenue if there was more routes to climb. If Knoxville Climbing Center already has the wall space and height for lead and TR routes, why would they not fully utilize it? Is there anyway the Knoxville climbing community would be allowed to volunteer their time to set and change routes assuming funding is an issue? Just some thoughts that I am not sure there are clear cut answers for on this forum . . . .

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By Brad Caldwell
From Deep in the Jocassee Gorges
Mar 14, 2013
Its been a few years since I've been there, but that place is by far the worst gym I've ever been to! Their staff lacked actual climbing knowledge, they were arrogant and offensive to practically everybody, they always played the worst music in the world, they set routes like a kid, and they refused to lead certify anyone at the time because it was too inconvenient. They were the only gym I've ever heard of that required you to use a gri-gri for lead routes...I got tired off that bullshit and brought my own rope and gear in and led the one lead route that was actually leadable. They got pretty mad because I wasn't certified but yet they refused to certify me after many, many times asking on previous visits. It was almost like only the "in crowd" were lead certified and that's it

I personally don't advise anyone to go to that gym, unless they are arrogant, ignorant and don't really understand what a climbing gym should be...you'd fit right in if that describes you though.

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By Lance S
From Maryville, TN
Mar 14, 2013
On top of the first pitch of the Nose
Yeah, I will agree that the gym has its problems. Since I am at their mercy for a climbing gym, I am trying to be polite about it.

That being said, if there are any investors from the Shark Tank out there looking for an investment, a well ran gym in the Knoxville (or Maryville area for selfish reasons) would be a cash cow.

The guys from Climb Nashville have obviously dialed in the business aspects of a climbing gym and have built/managed an amazing gym. Lance Brock, if you're out there, a Climb Knoxville (or Climb Maryville!) is the obvious next phase in the business venture :)

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By Jeff Thilking
From Lynchburg, VA
Mar 14, 2013
Rap
I agree with a lot that has been said here. The staff at River Sports is great, but the teenagers they have in the Climbing Center do often times seem arrogant and inconvenienced by those of use who are not in that "in crowd". Not every experience I have had has been negative, and some of the climbing staff is very friendly, but I would say 75% of the time the atmosphere is just not very welcoming at all. I would say I go there about once a month or so and this has been the case for the last couple of years. My complaints with the wall itself is that there is no middle ground. There is an overly easy hold-farm on less that vertical for birthday parties and church groups, and then there is pretty hard bouldering and a training board. I agree with Lance S, a lot of wasted space in the middle. I would love to lead, but they make it seem like a pain for some reason. Another climbing wall would be a cash cow in Knoxville. Chatt has a bunch, we need a bunch. There are plenty of abandoned warehouses that would be ideal.

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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Mar 15, 2013
Flaming Pumpkin
I have some mixed opinions on the staff at the Climbing Center and the gym in genereal.

First, it's hit or miss whether there is good staff. MOST of the staff are pretentious a-holes that really don't do anything but take money from people and then climb. Then when someone else walks in the door they act like it's such an inconvenience to come run the cash register again because they've been trying to send their "proj". However, there are one or two extremely nice and helpful employees. When I was building my first home wall, I asked if I could purchase any old holds from them and one of the employees took me behind the wall and then gave me 10-15 holds of my pick for free.

The routes are okay at best, but they're clearly just set for the employees. They are usually always set for like 5'6" climbers, and anyone bigger than that will have a really tough time even sending the V1s.

The leading has always been the same. I walked in and was certified the same day, but I was waiting about an hour on the guy to finish bouldering before he would watch me. They seem more interested in climbing with their friends than doing their job.

Having said all of that, I'm not so sure another gym would be profitable. The climbing community in Knoxville and nearby areas just isn't big enough to support a second gym. Just because another one opens up doesn't mean everyone is going to leave the Climbing Center and go to that one. But that's just my opinion.

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By Lance S
From Maryville, TN
Mar 15, 2013
On top of the first pitch of the Nose
I'll agree that two gyms in Knoxville would be a bit much, but I seriously can't imagine how a well ran gym wouldn't attract all the climbing attention. If you have a choice between a 1991 toyota camry and a brand new toyota tacoma, the choice would be easy. No one would go to the Knoxville Climbing Center if there was another gym where you could lead routes that were interesting and fresh and there was a variety of TR routes.

Murfreesboro, TN recently opened a gym and that city isn't as big as Knoxville and doesn't have any nearby crags. I think Knoxville's climbing community would flock to a good climbing gym, not to mention new climbers would be created with a welcoming gym. I am shocked by the amount of high school climbing teams (potential customers) in the area as well.

But I digress again, I just selfishly wish there was a gym with some good routes. I could get behind Knoxville Climbing Center and support them if they could improve some things.

Seriously though, thanks for everyone's input and opinions.

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By Andrew1986
Mar 18, 2013
I also climb at the climbing center and agree there is a lot of wasted space. Lots of wall above the bouldering area that could be utilized. There are about 4-5 setters there and after a while you can pretty much tell who set what without even looking. However, I have always had good experience with the staff there. Willing to help out with what ever you need, if you want a certain style problem set they will usually be able to oblige. I like to split up my time between there and the Vol Wall at UT, its 5$ if you're not a student and you just have to find someone who is to sign you in. But I do agree that a newer/better gym would be nice, however, I am not paying 17$ a day to climb (Price for a day pass at Climb Nash). I just can't afford that. So, you get what you pay for more or less, Climbing center is ~6$ to boulder 10$ to toprope. If it was the same price as Climb Nash then I would see the reasoning for being upset. But as cheap as it is it works. Luckily Its getting ready to be daylight until late at Obed. Lily Bluff is perfect after work destination.

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