Climbing walls, indoor climbing sports centers, infrastructures that have been expanding in recent years. For the customer (not necessarily integrated) it has become a new leisure activity, and for the entrepreneur it is emerging as a solid entrepreneurial option (some companies also offer restaurants). And innovation is leading the trend, with technical and sustainable solutions for materials and surfaces. The transformation of the indoor climbing world has a lot to do with technological advances, although there is still a long way to go. AI, censorship, machine learning algorithms and virtual or augmented reality offer important possibilities in the short term.
This is a relatively new practice. By the end of the 80s they were no longer in practice. Major milestones were the opening of Vertical World in Seattle, USA (1987) and Mile End Gym in London (1989). In 1996, the number of climbing walls on the planet quadrupled. Facilities have evolved at breakneck speed over the past fifteen years. And the profile of fans has also changed: from climbing enthusiasts to corporate events or children’s birthdays.
Sputnik Climbing is a climbing-centric organization that aims to create a community through an experience beyond the sport. They have four centers and are planning to open another center in Madrid soon. Fernando Hernández, its CEO, explains that in its facilities, its high-performance team „creates different researches.” About the concept of a smart climbing wall, he assesses, „It’s moving towards 'big data’, towards user understanding, behavior towards installation…” „What differentiates this sport within sports facilities – he says – is the creativity you offer on the trails.”
According to Hernandez, Alberto Guinez’s gold medal in climbing at the Tokyo Games has fueled interest in the sport: „When the media covers it, there’s a big connection. Yet The trend was already there. Not only the athletes, but also the general public have the facility. It is clear that it is heavily emphasized by this medal, with each of our facilities receiving an average of 350 new registrations weekly. The CEO of Sputnik Climbing presents economic data: „In the center of Las Rosas, the largest in Spain, we have a daily average of a thousand accesses. And in terms of turnover, last year it was 6,400,000 euros and this year we will close with 9,200,000.
Sustainability is another concept that can and will influence the design of facilities even more. Possibilities uUse environmentally friendly materials in construction Implementing components for energy efficiency to integrate solar panels or rainwater harvesting systems.
Uroq is a climbing center founded in 2018 in Alcorcon, Madrid. Its manager, Santiago Repollo, says that at his center „they use recycled materials” and a lot of wood. Repollo highlights the „growth in popularity among climbing gym users” and the growing business opportunity. „When we opened in Madrid there were three or four walls going up. And now there are some quality facilities. „It’s a commercial niche that’s expanding right now.”
The design of climbing walls is an important aspect. „The customer likes – says Rebollo – that there are new things every week. Thanks to the interactive walls, the dams light up according to the path you design. This way you don’t have to allocate workers to remove and install the tracks every week. This gives you a great advantage, because you have a lot of things that the user can follow in a small space. You own the paths and can design their own path.
Founded in 2021 by Alex Ruiz (CCO) and Joan Pallas (CEO), the company Shiny Wall, located in Rubi (Barcelona), is dedicated to the commercialization of these lighting systems that mark the prey and optimal path as a kind of display. Guide. ) and Jaume Roig (CTO). „This – says Ballas – is an interactive tool. On the climbing wall, we set up a system that illuminates the translucent holds. Everything is controlled through an app and different routes are indicated from a mobile phone. Ruiz points out that the technology used by Shiny Wall is its own: „We designed the app, we built it, we update and implement it. We also control the 'hardware’ that plugs directly into the LEDs.” Regarding the climbing gym’s business model, Alex says, „It’s profitable if it works well.” believes
Thanks to the app, users can choose which ones to light up to create different climbing routes from their Android device without equipping the wall each time. You can also find paths created by Shiny Wall experts or other users. This customization allows you to choose more difficult or easier routes depending on the route you want to take.
Efficiency and simplicity
Michael Euripetxeberia, founder of Ascotia-based Muskers, remembers what urban climbing was like: „In the past, friends would get together in the city and form a climbing group. We filled it with held and designed steps. „Sometimes we forgot the moves and someone made them with a stick. Marked.” To solve this process, Muskers decided to design simple magnetic devices made of silicon to be used on climbing walls and training ceilings. „I also created an application that takes a photo of the route in each case and uploads it to the cloud with a description of the style to be used,” says Eurybetseberia.
Muskers’ founder is proud of his contribution to the world of wall climbing: „My product is an alternative to more advanced, but more expensive technologies.” He also reckons he has a future ahead of him: „It’s a fantastic sport to watch. People who don’t mountaineer come up to me with comments asking if they could put it on TV. I see a lot of future in it, but it needs investment. „It depends on the speakers, it depends on the channels, they’re basically the media.”