By Amanda Compton Capital City Weekly
JUNEAU, Alaska — Writing a thesis, completing a crossword puzzle, configuring the ultimate setup for a home recycling center – the lure and excitement of getting it done keeps challenges we choose to attempt to conquer a revolving door. For some, adding a physical component to our endeavors is both addicting and cathartic.
Juneau resident Charlee Gribbon chooses to appease her thirst for physical activity and challenges through climbing. Specifically, Gribbon pursues the subgenre of bouldering, a type of climbing that doesn’t require much gear beyond shoes and crash pads.
“Part of the allure, and what pleases and keeps people so interested in bouldering is the aspect of figuring out a problem,” Gribbon said. The “problem” that Gribbon refers to is the series of moves required to finish a specific route.
The climbing scene around Juneau is still taking off. New boulders and rock faces adequate for climbing are in a constant state of discovery. With winter preventing outdoor climbing, and the interest of having her passion accessible, Gribbon’s solution was to build a climbing wall in her house.
Gribbon and her partner, also an avid climber, purchased a home in the Mendenhall Valley a few years ago. Their main specification in their house hunting process was a two-car garage.
“Basically that’s all we had in mind,” Gribbon said. The couple found a house, which Gribbon describes as “A penthouse apartment above a garage. It’s perfect.” They signed the paper work on Earth Day of 2010.
Since then, they have developed a majority of the walls and part of the ceiling of their garage into a haven for indoor bouldering. And they can still pull a car in.
Gribbon and her partner have experience building indoor walls. They started collecting holds in 2004, when they built their first wall in a garage in Anchorage. When they later moved to Juneau, they built one in their first rental. When they were working on the garage of their current house, they realized how much they had lucked out. The house had been built by a contractor, and their garage was sturdier than average.
Having an indoor bouldering gym is a luxury that Gribbon and her partner recognize, and one they’d like to extend to friends.
The couple also hasn’t lost sight about why they spend so much time inside a garage.
“It’s never the highlight of climbing, it’s just to get a work out in,” Gribbon said, in order to keep strong for outdoor climbing. “You definitely get a work out. You’re not standing around waiting for someone else to climb.”