A crew from Northside Boulders – the best damn gym in Melbourne-town – blasts up the Western Highway to find idyllic and accessible Venus Baths offers some great bouldering.
A couple of months ago we did something that was a long time coming, something that Melbourne has been screaming out for. We opened a brand spanking, new bouldering gym – Northside Boulders.
A year before that, we – that is a bunch of psyched boulderers – had bought the city’s iconic bouldering institution The Lactic Factory. Lactic is much loved, so much so that it was bursting at the seams and we immediately realised that it needed a brother. A big brother.
All around the world bouldering is booming right now but we wanted to do it right. So we planned and designed and schemed and plotted and ordered holds and fought with councils and battled with landlords and got heaps and heaps of climbers psyched to help us.
In this process Lactic hasn’t missed out. We have increased the frequency of regular setting, introduced new holds and put back into the business to reward the climbers who have trained here for years.
But we’re not done at either gym.
That movie Field of Dreams was pretty good but it didn’t get it quite right. “If you build it they will come”, it said. That’s partly true but it’s not the whole story.
We built Northside and rebuilt Lactic and people have come but that’s not enough and we know it. Northside and Lactic are ongoing projects and we are still working on them both. We’re working to make them better facilities, integrating more regular classes because every one wants to get better, expanding our coaching sessions, bringing in more training and conditioning equipment, hosting more rad events and creating a space that engages with local climbing issues.
Balancing a hotbed of training über-psyche with an atmosphere that is inviting for people looking to first enter climbing is not an easy task but that is our aim. We want to use the best holds to support the freshest setting to make engaging, challenging and fun problems. We know that we need enough stuff to make a session fun in and of itself but also enough stuff to allow people to train hard and focussed.
Most of all – and what all of these other things feed up into – we are working to build a community. That is the whole point. Both at Northside and Lactic we are working to create places that climbers feel a part of and want to come to.
If you build it (and make it awesome) they will come (and be a part of it).
So thanks everyone, here's to climbing loads, getting strong and having fun.