People who crave an uphill climb will have a foothold in downtown Victoria this summer when Crag X marks 20 years by relocating its climbing walls.
Construction of a 15-metre-high building featuring a glass front is underway on the 700 block of Pandora Avenue beside the WIN Resale Store. The design will let in the light, showcase the efforts of climbers from morning to night and perhaps tempt sedentary types to give it a try. Rock climbing is “a serious kind of fun,” said co-owner Ken Cronin.
“Our goal is to build the best climbing gym that has been built,” he said. “We’ve picked downtown because we believe in downtown. We’re an urban activity.”
Crag X won’t be the only new climb in the city. Last November, the long-awaited 16-metre Peninsula Co-op Climbing Wall was unveiled at the University of Victoria. Open to the public, it’s the tallest climbing structure at a B.C. university, installed at the entrance to the new $77-million Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities.
Crag X currently operates out of rented quarters on John Street in the Rock Bay area. The move will allow Cronin and boyhood friend and partner Nikolai Galadza to expand the range of rock climbing in a purpose-built structure, attracting the lunch crowd and early morning athletes.
There will be no shortage of potential customers from major downtown offices, they said.
The duo bought the Pandora property for $1.14 million in 2013 and will be investing “well over a million dollars” in the building and fitting it out. Previously, a decrepit pink building dating to 1895 on the site housed a traditional Chinese medicine establishment owned by Wally Mui.
The early summer opening of Crag X will come about a year after the initial time estimate because getting things off the ground took longer than expected, Cronin said.
“The big thing for us is a wider range of services,” Cronin said. Climbing activities such as top roping and automatic belaying will be augmented by lead climbing, which is climbing with a partner.
Other courses will be added involving self-rescue and hanging belay, along with a studio for yoga, stretching and training to tempt those who aren’t on the walls.
Crag X concentrates on adult climbers, and no one under age 12 is allowed except children of members at scheduled times. Current annual memberships cost $500 a year with day rates at $16.
Prices in the new location have not been set.