Chattanooga Now High Point thus far

Chattanooga Now High Point thus far

September 1st, 2013 by Kelsie Bowman in Getout Climbing - old

The whirring and whizzing echoing from The Block denote the progress on High Point Climbing and Fitness. Perhaps the most telling signs, though, are the platforms installed 10 feet directly above the sidewalk on Broad Street.

It seems that the nearly $6-million-dollar project is so close to being complete, you can almost visualize that outdoor climbing wall rising above you.

The climbing gym is set to host an open house Oct. 12 during the closing ceremonies of the RiverRocks festival. And while every aspect may not be complete inside the gym (though it will be pretty darn close), attendees of the ceremonies will get the chance to demo the outdoor climbing wall. "It's progressing faster and faster," says John Wiygul, co-owner and operator of the vast indoor climbing gym, explaining that the original design has been tweaked to be sleeker and better suited for the space. "It just took some time. There's a lot of engineering and time that goes into building a gym under five stories of parking garage."

Co-owners of High Point John Wiygul and John O'Brien stand in the midst of construction.

Co-owners of High Point John Wiygul and John...

Photo by Kelsie Bowman /Times Free Press.

"The process has continued to evolve for the better," adds co-owner and operator John O'Brien. "It's probably one of the most unique climbing gyms in the U.S." The most unique aspect is likely the above-mentioned outdoor climbing wall, which will also include an international speed distance climbing section. "Most gyms are in a warehouse district; we'll be the only gym around that has an outdoor climbing wall in a downtown city," says Wiygul. "For the public to be able to see the sport of rock climbing right off the street is amazing."

No doubt-the small mountain in the heart of downtown will be a sight to see, but a tour of the inside, though it does require some imagination, proves it to be worth just as much excitement. Windows, steel work and climbing surfaces are already installed, including in "the pit" that drops 16.5 feet from ground level. The pit's climbing surface, which will include some of the gym's most challenging routes in terms of steepness, extends 40 feet to the ceiling and overhangs to create an extra 15 feet of actual climbing.

High Point will also offer an extensive amount of boulders, from mushroom to wave, as well as a childcare center, fitness center catered to climbers, space for businesses to host functions and an onsite climbing guide service, with climbing guides who moved straight from California for the job.

"You can see the huge scale of the project," says Wiygul. "It's really taking shape."

For updates on progress and the official opening date, visit