Still Climbing

Vertical World member Sara Lingafelter climbs one of the walls at the Bremerton climbing gym. - Jesse Beals/staff photos
Vertical World member Sara Lingafelter climbs one of the walls at the Bremerton climbing gym.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photos

Vertical World remains open for business, despite being up for sale.

2008 came and went and Vertical World is still open for business.

The assets of the East Bremerton climbing gym went up for sale last spring and the Vertical World higher-ups said they would be forced to close the gym if no buyers came forward.

Vertical World member Sara Lingafelter, of Poulsbo, said several people contacted Vertical World Majority Owner Rich Johnston about purchasing the assets, but ended up not buying.

Despite the lack of buyers, Vertical World remains open for business because a few staff members were let go from the Bremerton climbing gym to cut costs.

“It’s fair to say they’ve worked out some staffing issues,” Lingafelter said.

Vertical World Bremerton Manager Sam Hadley said the gym’s closing date kept getting pushed back and now the gym remains open with no closing date in sight.

“We went from having fixed dates to no date,” Lingafelter said.

Hadley said once gym members learned Vertical World was up for sale, they quickly rallied and called Johnston to tell him their thoughts and frustrations about possibly closing the climbing gym.

“From what he’s been saying, there’s been a lot of positive feedback,” Hadley said.

Nearly 40 gym members met regularly last year and discussed a possible acquisition of the assets, but that did not work out.

Vertical World has climbing gyms in Seattle, Redmond, Everett and Bremerton. Hadley said the Bremerton gym is the least profitable of the four, which meant it would be closed before the others.

Both Hadley and Lingafelter said despite low profits compared to the other gyms, Vertical World Bremerton is special in its own way.

“Kitsap is just different than the other gyms,” Lingafelter said.

“This ain’t Seattle,” Hadley added.

Since the gym’s assets went up for sale, Hadley said Vertical World and its nearly 300 members have changed for the better.

“The atmosphere has changed in here,” he said. “It’s back to the family feeling.”

Lingafelter began climbing at Vertical World more than three years ago and said the climbing gym is a big part of people’s lives.

“It’s a great way to meet climbing partners. Rock climbing is really a group activity, a community activity,” she said. “This is where we make friends, plan trips, get in shape.”

Lingafelter said people travel from Gig Harbor, Port Angeles and Sequim to climb at Vertical World.

“Folks come from all over the Peninsula,” she said. “It’s a great resource and would be a tremendous loss to the community if it were to go.”

Hadley said as far as he knows, Vertical World Bremerton is still for sale, but he’s feeling confident the climbing gym will be open a while longer, with or without someone buying it.

“It’s a lot better. I’m a lot more optimistic about it,” he said.

Vertical World Bremerton is hosting a bouldering competition Saturday, Jan. 31. Contact the gym at (360) 373-6676 for more information.

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