CLARIFICATION: Feb. 15 is the planned date of Progression Climbing’s soft opening, but that date could change.
For junior John Cuningham bouldering isn’t just a hobby — it’s a passion.
Cuningham frequents the climbing wall at Fetzer Gym on campus, so he said he’s excited about Chapel Hill’s only private bouldering gym opening later this month.
“Bouldering has physical and mental aspects. It’s like solving a problem while using physicality,” Cuningham said before he rushed back to his spot on the rock climbing wall at Fetzer Gym.
Progression Climbing, which will be located on Legion Road, is planning a soft opening Feb. 15, though that date could change.
The gym focuses on bouldering, a style of rock climbing that does not require ropes or harnesses. Instead, at the bottom of the 16-foot climbing wall there is a large mat called a crash pad that catches falling climbers.
Progression Climbing will offer many options for patrons, ranging from lessons for beginners to competitive teams for both youth and adults.
A UNC student will also run the gym’s after-school program. The gym will offer other kid-friendly options such as birthday parties and overnight lock-ins.
Jeff Dunbar, one of the gym’s founders, said he wants to attract everyone from parents with kids to college students to avid climbers.
Dunbar said he hopes UNC students will make their way to the facility, and the gym will offer college nights on Tuesdays.
Progression’s grand opening will be on March 1 — and the gym is expecting hundreds to turn out.
Dunbar said he hopes the opening will attract other climbers from across the state because it will simultaneously host a regional climbing competition that day.
The climbing competition is expected to have about 200 people in attendance, Dunbar said.
“I’ve invited people from 37 climbing gyms around the region,” said Dunbar.
“Some of the best climbers of North Carolina will be there that day.”
Progression won’t be the only climbing wall in town.
The town of Chapel Hill runs its own public rock climbing wall, which is busiest on Tuesday and Thursday nights, said Lisa Baaske, the Chapel Hill Community Center supervisor.
The town’s wall features a style of climbing called top-rope, which requires ropes and harnesses, while also offering bouldering like Progression.
Dunbar said he is very excited about the gym’s opening and the fun atmosphere it will provide.
“(It will be) social and have a good vibe,” he said.
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