2019 was a rollercoaster ride for me and Christoph. We had two babies on the way–our firstborn and a bouldering gym! We had spent several months in 2018 looking for the perfect place to open a bouldering gym. It wasn’t easy, but by the time January 2019 rolled in, our dream was about to become a reality.
I guess you could say everything started when Christoph and I met. I was spending a semester abroad in Innsbruck when we met at his university. Little did we know that we would end up doing long-distance when I went back home. Since Christoph graduated before I did, he spent a few months in Manila waiting for me to finish before we would move back to Innsbruck.
The start of a dream
Christoph first started climbing when his dad brought him to the local sandstone crag near his hometown in Germany. After that, he started visiting climbing gyms and began dreaming of having one of his own in the future. And during his first visit to Manila, he thought that it would be a great place to open a bouldering gym. The popularity of the sport was growing and so was the climbing community. He also noticed that most social gatherings revolved around bars and restaurants. This was a bit different from what he was used to in Germany, and so he wanted to provide another option for people to have fun together and encourage one another. This was when the idea of opening a bouldering gym in Manila was born, but we would have to wait a few years.
When I graduated, we moved to Innsbruck and climbing became a bigger part of my life. While I had always enjoyed climbing as a kid, it was only after moving to Innsbruck and meeting Christoph did I start to treat it as a sport. We mostly climbed outdoors. When we did climb indoors, we’d always find ourselves having the most fun bouldering in the climbing gym! After five years of blissful living amidst the nature-rich Innsbruck, we got married, sold all our belongings, and settled down in Manila.
The location 👀
The first step was to find the right location in Makati. Why Makati? We wanted to open up somewhere in the South since most of the existing climbing gyms were located in the North. We wanted to make climbing more accessible and Makati seemed like the best place. It was easy tofind yourself there whether it be your place of work or where you go to hang out with your buddies.
The search was more difficult than we expected. We needed a floor-to-ceiling height of at least 5 meters, but the majority of the available options didn’t have that much space since they were mostly built for offices or retail stores. We then considered warehouses but abandoned the idea because of the limited parking, rent, and location.
After searching for almost a year, we sent our presentation deck to Circuit Makati and hoped for the best. They loved the concept! Luckily, they had a tenant moving out of a space that suited our needs. We ended up getting three spaces, adding up to a total of 480 sqm. After signing the lease, we immediately got to work!
Getting the ball rolling…
With our space secured in early December 2018, the next step was construction! From the very beginning, we already knew we would not be getting a contractor for the climbing walls. Christoph had some experience building and the support of his old colleagues at ArtRock back in Tirol, Austria. We spent several days measuring the space as accurately as possible so that the planning of the bouldering walls could start before Christmas. We needed to work fast because the turnover of the space would already be in February!
Once we had all the measurements of the space, we gave them to ArtRock. They planned the overall concept of our bouldering area. Together, we came up with a wall design that could welcome first-timers but also host bouldering competitions. We greatly appreciate the immense help and contribution of Thomas, Stefan, Jessica, Sarah, and the rest of the ArtRock team. They managed to fit us into their busy schedule and helped purchase the climbing holds and hardware we needed too. We are so grateful for their help and the amazingly detailed plans that were essential to build the climbing walls. We could not have done it without them! You can check out their amazing works here.
While waiting for the climbing wall plans, we also worked with local architects Miko and Miguel of Imagimax to design the bistro and changing room area and to do the engineering plans. We then started to divide the responsibilities between the two of us. Christoph’s job was construction and my job was to set up the business.