It's "Dojo" time in Boulder, Colorado

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The Spot Bouldering Gym unveils a major new wall

There comes a time in every gym rat’s life where you begin to crave more beyond the good ol’ walls you’ve come to know and love. Enter The Spot Bouldering Gym’s newest wall, the Dojo, unveiled September 5.

The Dojo is aptly named. It’s an 18-foot tall, 1,500-square-foot, featureless expanse of steep gray plaster with a cave cut into the middle. No frills, no fancy paint or touch-ups; it’s the lair of all gym-rat zen masters hoping to hone their polyurethane prowess. A great deal of work went into putting it all together for the crowd. Johnny Hork, a route-setter at The Spot, says he put in more than 100 hours in the week leading up to the opening, “welding, screwing in T-nuts, putting up grips.” John Stack and his company Vertical Solutions, which specializes in custom climbing walls, built the wall. The area was closed off on August 4 and reopened again September 5.


“This wall was designed to address everything the gym was missing up to this point,” says route-setter Andrew Turnbo. “Steep roofs, consistent angles—this is the ideal competition wall.” So maybe the wall wasn’t built with us weaker rats in mind. But if you’re one of those that managed to get strong, you’ll have your change for glory at the Dojo during the USA Climbing and 2008/09 Spot Bouldering Series events to come.

The Spot reopened at 5pm on September 5th, and in the back corner, formerly a clutter of weight machines, hung a black curtain. People gathered eagerly, and when the curtain fell they began their siege. I weaved my way through the throng up into the café to check out the bird’s-eye view. With a beer in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other, I watched from the balcony as climbers pitched off the Dojo’s imposing upper wall.

It was plain to see how impressive this new wall was. It stood a fair bit taller than the already tall free-standing boulders (the Hueco Boulder and the Font Boulder, both 16 feet) in the middle of the Spot’s floor, and the top of the cave featured a fully horizontal roof. Climbers’ feet cut as they dangled from the roof, and some took violent swings into the crowd as they exited onto the little headwall. Even for seasoned plastic pullers, this new wall demanded a healthy chunk of respect.


Down in the crowd, I could sense that the throngs were charged with ripe competitive energy only fitting for a place called the Dojo. Dave Graham was there, pulling down. Or rather, he was getting pulled down. The Stack Brothers (Adam and John), one entangling Dave’s feet and the other his arms, wrestled him to the ground and dragged him around the mat. Graham made valiant efforts to extricate himself, but to no avail. Don’t feel bad for Graham, though — two against one is hardly fair. They don’t call it the Dojo for nothing.

The Dojo was christened well. Good routes, good people, and good beer all conspired together for a grand old celebration, assuring a bright future for this unique wall, sure to turn out power monsters and roof crushers for many years to come.