At the end of October, San Luis Obispo’s most popular climbing gym, SLO-OP, is slated to move from its current location at 298 Prado Road to a new warehouse that will offer both unroped bouldering and top rope climbing — a first for the San Luis Obispo indoor rock climbing scene.
This location transition also comes with a change in SLO-OP’S business model. To offset the costs of building a new gym and employing full-time staff, SLO-OP will no longer be a donation based and volunteer run business.
As part of the rebranding process, SLO-OP will change its name. The new gym will be called The Pad and there are tentative plans to open business on Nov. 1. It will offer expanded programs for workouts, yoga and children’s activities. Additionally, the gym will have a plexiglass climbing wall for experienced climbers to practice on and adjustable cracks for crack climbers.
Crack climbing is a type of rock climbing in which the climber follows a crack along the side of a wall, as oppossed to grabbing hold of protruding rocks.
“I will definitely be signing up for a membership at The Pad when it opens,” forestry and natural resources junior Ben Jonson said. “I’m really excited to get into lead climbing which they’ll offer at the
The bouldering area at SLO-OP’s new location will retain its members’ 24/7 access, a consistency for current climbers.
Although this transition is a huge shift for SLO-OP, their volunteers aren’t worried that their membership base is
“Climbers are some of the best people and I have no doubt that when our current community merges with the incoming one, people will bond over climbing,” construction management third year and SLO-OP front desk volunteer Kat Hasson said.
Unlike its outdoor counterpart, indoor rock climbing offers a much safer and more accessible activity for those interested in testing their ability to shimmy up walls.
As a result, indoor rock climbing has been trending since 2005 and will likely overtake outdoor climbing in popularity. Recently, the International Olympic Committee endorsed this movement by announcing that indoor rock climbing would be included in the events planned for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
As indoor climbing fever began to grip the world, Yishai Horowitz, the mind behind the do-it-yourself climbing scene of SLO-OP, remembers a time when it only appealed to a niche group
“I got together with a couple friends and local climbers and we built a small gym at Alamo self-storage,” Horowitz said. “We had a Tupperware we set out to collect dues to pay for rent but we weren’t in it to make money. We wanted to climb.”
Horowitz’s passion project, SLO-OP Climbing Gym, started in 2003 with just a handful of members, but it quickly outgrew its 400 square feet of storage space. Expecting to service 70 people, almost 300 signed up for the community membership. But, when SLO-OP moved to its current location in 2008, Horowitz and the gym received an even larger spike in membership than before. They expected 300 people to sign up but ended up registering 1,200 members.
SLO-OP became more than a passion project for Horowitz, as it turned into his full-time job. He now seeks to add more opportunities
“Climbing has been growing in popularity since I started back in 1993 and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon,” Horowitz said.