Losing $20,000 a Month, One Climbing Gym Shuts Its Doors

Climbing gyms were particularly hard hit by Covid-19. Rock City didn't make it.

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Rock City, in Anaheim, California, wasn’t always a climbing gym. It used to be Alpine-X, an indoor ski school before a gung-ho climber bought it, flipped the artificial ski slopes upside down, and bolted some plastic to it, turning it into one of the oldest climbing gyms in California. Established over 26 years ago, Rock City has seen it all. Various owners put their mark on the gym before Maurice Cureton, along with his wife, Tasha, bought the gym in 2015.

Since its inception, Rock City had always been a reformation project. Gym owner Maurice Cureton remembers his first day at the gym when a shirtless, hairy, grinning front desk employee greeted him. He had made his rounds through various climbing gyms in Orange County. Unsatisfied with the corporate feel and profit-driven sales approach to gaining new members, Maurice was hesitant. Rock City was the last stop, and all the hesitations about starting a pricey gym membership were wiped clean in an instant. The community knew nothing of Maurice at that point except he wanted to climb, and he was looking for a place to call home. That was enough, and they pulled Maurice in. “You learn to accept hugs, and give hugs the same way,” he said.

Maurice bought the gym eight years later. Their first day of business was March 15, 2015. Their last day, March 15, 2020.

“The pandemic snuck up on us,” said Maurice. “We were just coming around a corner, too.”

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