Boulders Climbing Gym Welcomes the World!

By Christine van Reeuwyk – Peninsula News Review

The world will come to climb at Stelly’s secondary, in the meantime they’ll be training for the future.

Registration is open for the new Stelly’s climbing academy, set to start in September.

“The goal is to enable students to discover and pursue a passion for climbing within a supportive community,” said Kimanda Jarzebiak, chair of the board at The Boulders Climbing Gym. “It’s going to allow students from Grade 9 to 12 to replace two courses a year with climbing related content, whether it’s physiology and training, probably a good grasp of physics at some point, as well as climbing technique and the ability to take those skills outside in a structured manner.”

The program will be led by Stelly’s graduate, and teacher Ryan Braun, who is a certified climbing instructor with the Canadian Association of Mountain Guides. It is the only known program of its kind in a North American public school.

“Having an academy for climbing here will do a great thing for students throughout the region, probably throughout our province,” said Murray Coell, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands during the announcement Monday.

Stelly’s student climber Maegan Kelleway is part of the national team that will attend the 2010 world championships in Scotland this September. Though she graduates in June, she too is excited about the academy.

“I’m really excited for all my teammates who do get to continue,” Kelleway said. “Climbing in itself is a really unique sport. Everybody just accepts each other for having a passion for something.”

The first climbing gym at Stelly’s came in the mid ‘90s, and the facility grew to its current 4,500 square feet of space in the summer of 2005. With demands far outweighing the space, The Boulders broke ground last spring on the expansion which is expected to finish in June.

“This is important to Stelly’s because students have been asking for it … it’s come from the grass roots,” said principal Bruce Frith. “We welcome our students in this opportunity to be part of the new expansion. And we also invite those students beyond Stelly’s.”

The world-class facility will include a 60-foot climbing wall with varying degrees of difficulty. While fundraising for The Boulders third of the funding (two thirds came from federal and provincial grants) ‘If you build it, the world will come’ was a mantra among proponents from school and youth climbing officials, to the climbers themselves.

“The facility that we’re building will be one of the first in North America capable of hosting international world competitions,” Jarzebiak said Monday, gesturing to the construction zone at the back of Stelly’s school.

She was visibly excited to announce Boulders will host the World Youth Climbing Championships in August 2013. It will be a first for North America.

“This will bring thousands of athletes,” Coell said. “We’re known in the capital region for rowing, for swimming, we’re now going to be known internationally for climbing.”

The Boulders Climbing Gym