Iowa Climbing Gym Burns Down
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2/21/13 – Wall-Nut Creek Climbing Gym (aka Broke Barn Climbing), a gym located in an old dairy barn in Kelley, Iowa, burned down February 14. Fortunately, the gym was closed when it was ablaze, and no one was reported injured.
Police arrested Brett Graham, 19, the following day and charged him with three accounts of second-degree arson. Graham has reportedly admitted to starting four fires in the area.
Wall-Nut Creek was first started as B&B Mountaineering in the mid-1990s, making it the first public climbing gym in Iowa. The gym featured a 24-foot overhang, cracks up to offwidth-sized, and even faux ice/mixed routes.
Local Chris Linderblood was a regular patron of the gym. “While physically unique, the spirit of this old barn was the tight-knit community,” he said. The loss of the gym is devastating to the Iowa climbing community. “Wall-Nut Creek was my home away from home,” said Linderblood. “[But] I am grateful for the time I had within its rickety, drafty, leaky walls.”
The owner, Richard Honzatko, has not confirmed if he will restore the gym. “Time will tell whether the climbing community will recover and rebuild,” he said.
Date of fire: February 14, 2013
Sources: Richard Honzatko, State Fire Marshal Division, Chris Linderblood