Indoor Rock Climbing Gym Comes to Somerville

Anyone who has ever wanted to scale the Prospect Hill Monument will soon get their chance when Brooklyn Boulders, a new indoor rock climbing gym, opens in Somerville later this year. The company, which opened its first facility in Brooklyn in 2009, has found a second home at 12A Tyler St., next door to the Artisan’s Asylum.

The space is still very much under construction, but the sheer size of it is already awe-inspiring. From a 140-foot long, 22-foot tall bouldering wall to a 50-foot tall rock climbing wall that extends onto the ceiling, giving climbers a view of the Boston skyline from recently installed windows, Somerville is almost certain to become a major destination for New England rock climbers.

Brooklyn Boulders Somerville From Above

“The mayor made it possible for us to get this building,” said Lance Pinn, one of Brooklyn Boulders founders, a Cambridge resident and a graduate of Wellesley’s Babson College. “Our first choice was Boston for our first gym.”

But that was several years ago, before Pinn and his business partners had any experience in the industry. Now, after opening and running the original Brooklyn Boulders for nearly four years, it was time for the group to expand. So they looked again in the Boston area and stumbled upon the Tyler Street location.

“It was the second building we found,” Pinn said. “Spaces like this don’t exist in our area. And it happens to be in the best place ever, on the Cambridge/Somerville line.”

Brooklyn Boulders Somerville Biscuit

Pinn and his business partners got the idea to open their first Brooklyn Boulders space after trying indoor rock climbing a few times, but finding it difficult to keep up the hobby because of high costs and low accessibility. Brooklyn Boulders Somerville will have ample parking day and night and a variety of facility use passes available (day, monthly, quarterly and annual).

Brooklyn Boulders Somerville was slated to open in December, but construction snags got in the way. Now, Pinn is targeting a summer 2013 opening. The space will be adorned with graffiti and art from people working in Brooklyn and Somerville, including Brooklyn Boulders’ neighbors, Artisan’s Asylum.

When the facility is finished, it will house the giant rock climbing and bouldering walls and a replica of the Prospect Hill Monument that people can climb. There will be a co-working space (with free Wi-Fi throughout the building), a Guerilla Coffee espresso stand, several retail spaces housing both permanent and pop-up shops, 40-indoor bike parking spaces, locker rooms, cardio equipment and special areas for employees to hang out in their off-hours.

Brooklyn Boulders Somerville Prospect

“We love our employees and want to keep them around,” Pinn said. That love extends to customers too, who Pinn and his business partners hope will come to the facility to do more than just climb. “We want you to work here. We want you to stay here.”

In addition to all of the areas catering to adults, Brooklyn Boulders Somerville will feature a large kids’ area. There will be two party rooms, a space with auto belays (a way to climb solo and the method many people use as beginners) and a children’s climbing team.

Pinn and his business partners are not only passionate about climbing, but also about giving back to the local community. In addition to the kids’ climbing team, there will be opportunities for adults in the community to mentor local children and for groups to host climb-a-thons to raise money for their organizations.

Brooklyn Boulders Somerville Bike Parking

“They’re meant for the community to enjoy,” Pinn said of the climb-a-thons, which mimic what he called the greatest moment of his childhood: an overnight gym lock-in. “No one is using it in the middle of the night and you can get a lot of awareness out of it.”

Ultimately, Brooklyn Boulders is about bringing people together and Pinn hopes to carry that over into the Somerville facility.

“Physical activity inspires innovation,” Pinn said. “The idea is that people get to mingle.”

[Updated 8/2/13: Brooklyn Boulders Somerville officially opened its doors at 12A Tyler St. on July 31. The photos in the post are from the opening weekend. You can see more here. The facility is now open seven days a week from 10 a.m.-midnight.]

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