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High Point Climbing and Fitness Director of Route Setting Cody Grodzki on the job.
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John Wiygul, Partner and General Manager for High Point Climbing and Fitness poses for the 2016 Chatter Magazine issue of 20 under 40.
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Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 5/19/16. Andy Cutler resets the top rope room at High Point Climbing and Fitness on May 19, 2016.

High Point Climbing Gym's spot in Climbing Magazine's "America's 10 Best Climbing Gyms," released online last week, is just the latest accolade for the Broad Street facility that opened in 2014.

Soon, High Point will have another gym to help the company compete for such honors.

High Point Birmingham is scheduled to host a soft opening Nov. 10, and the new facility has already landed a professional-level event for December.

The Vulcan Cup is expected to bring professionals and amateurs from around the country to compete Dec. 16-17, as the 35,000- square-foot gym situated in the heart of Birmingham celebrates its full opening by hosting the USA Climbing National Cup Series event.

"I think that High Point set the bar very high with their downtown Chattanooga location," Climbing Magazine editor Julie Ellison told the Times Free Press, "and with the same folks running the show and building the new spot in Birmingham, there's a level of confidence in the brand that you won't get with other gym franchises."

High Point co-owner and general manager John Wiygul credited High Point's downtown Chattanooga "flagship" location for building the gym's reputation, adding that High Point director of route setting Cody Grodzki has been key in fostering the gym's relationship with USA Climbing.

Wiygul and business partner Johnny O'Brien also acquired Urban Rocks Climbing Gym on Appling Street last year and are eyeing expansion to other Southern cities, with Savannah, Ga., likely the next spot for a gym, Wiygul said.

"We've gotten recognition from Climbing Magazine and have hosted some high-level regional competitions here, and those were run very well and we got notoriety from that," Wiygul said. "So having a great team and being recognized for those things just attracts more good things."

The Birmingham gym is about 5,000 feet larger than High Point's Broad Street location and cost $8 million, according to Wiygul. It features weight, yoga, aerobic, and birthday party rooms, among its amenities. The total climbing surface is 25,000 square feet, which is about 5,000 less than what the Broad Street location offers, Wiygul said.

The gym also features a 15-meter speed climbing wall that mirrors the type of wall that will be used when climbing makes its Olympic debut in 2020.

"It's a different facility with different aspects to it," he said. "We don't have an outdoor wall down there, but we've got lots of great, tall climbing inside, and bouldering as well."

Gyms from Utah, New York, Missouri and all over the country were featured in the Climbing Magazine piece that named High Point one of the nation's top 10 climbing gyms.

The article, penned by Shannon Davis and Elliott Natz, appeared in the magazine's print edition earlier this year. It describes High Point Chattanooga as "perhaps the only gym in the country to offer indoor and outdoor climbing right on site."

"In a staff visit, Climbing editors loved how the gym's rooms were organized for bouldering, instruction, toproping, lead climbing and training," the article reads.

It's not the first time the publication has issued praise for High Point.

A piece published on the magazine's website this summer was headlined "Chattanooga: America's New Climbing Capitol." It praised the gym for being, "a destination" within an area known for its many outdoor climbing locales.

"As far as climbing gyms go, High Point is just that good," Ellison said, "and this is coming from someone who's been in Boulder [Colo.], the Land of Climbing Gyms, for eight years."

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.

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