Is rock climbing just exercise, or is it a way of life? Cirque Climbing Gym in Lacey is Thurston County’s answer to that question. Cirque has a spectrum of amenities such as beginner belay lessons, advanced coaching and inclusive events. Previously Warehouse Rock Gym, this hub for local climbers has enjoyed a renaissance of community after weathering the pandemic.

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Rock Climbing in Thurston County

Cirque Climbing Gym is a wonderful spot to climb whether you’re a novice climber or deep into your climbing journey. This climbing gym features bouldering walls – short walls with padded flooring and no ropes – as well as rope climbing walls – tall walls where you use ropes for safety. There are climbing classes and coaching sessions led by experienced climbers that range from intro to expert. Don’t forget the inclusive community events! Cirque also has a sleek Kilter Board, hangboards, free weights, exercise equipment and training tools galore.

The cherry on top is a dog-friendly policy. This gym truly has some mom-and-pop spice. What could have caused this trustworthy and easy-going atmosphere?

two people standing at the front desk at the Cirque Climbing Gym, with a glass door-fridge in front with energy drinks and other products on the counter
Check out the climbing products and membership options offered at Cirque between climbs. Photo credit: Sam Reinmuth

How the Thurston County Climbing Community Came to Cirque’s Aid

Gym owner Mike Boyer has a long history with rock climbing. “I’ve been passionate about climbing since the mid ‘80s,” he explains. Once a staunch outdoor climber, Mike is candid about how modern climbing gyms won him over. “In the early 2000s, as climbing gyms evolved into local climbing community hubs, my attitude totally changed,” he says. Owning a beautiful indoor rock gym with a thriving community seems to inspire a lot of pride. “Having now climbed for nearly 40 years, I’m more jazzed than ever about climbing,” he shares.

Mike took over primary ownership of downtown Olympia’s Warehouse Rock Gym in 2014. The location proved unsustainable, and he soon began developing a new and improved climbing facility in Lacey. As with any big project, there were unforeseen obstacles. “The cost of building our climbing walls significantly increased and exceeded our budget,” Mike recalls. “That’s when I started getting calls from some of my old climbing buddies,” he says. “They volunteered their labor to help install our climbing walls.”

two people working on on the construction of a climbing wall with a big piece of wood on two saw horses
The climbing community helped build this climbing gym’s walls. Cirque is giving back by teaching classes and hosting events. Photo courtesy: Cirque Climbing Gym

Word circulated around the climbing community and it quickly became clear that the necessary resources were far from being in doubt. “Some folks I’d known for years, but others I’d never met,” Mike remembers. “I’m still totally blown away by the support we received. For me, because of that support, this will always be a community-built climbing gym.”

Cirque Climbing Gym Prioritizes Building Community and Being Inclusive

The gym director at Cirque, Esteban Pinto, has climbed in many parts of the world. He’s been around the bloc, so to speak. “A key part of Cirque’s mission is to be inclusive,” he shares. “You never know who needs this space, or who will thrive in it.” Esteban’s perspective is refreshing. It’s clear that he cares about fostering an atmosphere where climbers with a range of experiences and backgrounds can coexist. “I think it’s important to recognize that we’re all trying to push ourselves,” he says. The outcome is a climbing gym where experienced climbers can hone their skills and new climbers can learn the basics.

Jimmy Chulich in front of the kilter wall at Cirque Climbing Gym in Lacey
Train alongside expert climbers at Cirque Climbing Gym in Lacey. Jimmy Chulich is a route setter and coach for Cirque who can often be found upstairs using the Kilter board. Photo credit: Sam Reinmuth

Community events are a staple at Cirque. Women’s night, BIPOC climbers night, cookouts, holiday events, and climbing competitions headline a deep lineup of events. Vendor night is one of several ideas currently being considered. Lauren Zammit and Kristi Sogn are senior staff at cirque that often help coordinate. “We want to create opportunities for people at the gym to get to know each other beyond climbing,” Lauren explains. “Kristi made a great point that we also want to reach out to people who aren’t yet involved at Cirque.”

Shane Tageson-Ramirez, Cirque’s head route setter, invites you to give rock climbing a try. “Anyone and everyone can climb,” he proclaims. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 7 years old or 70.” Shane describes a thoughtful setting team that regularly works to pull down old climbs and create new ones. “Our goal is to create climbs that are challenging and fun for all experience levels and body types,” he says. And Shane doesn’t just speak on body type equity. He walks the walk, too. Despite being shorter in stature than many of Cirque’s patrons, Shane’s climbing presence looms large. “I like being my height,” he says. “I’ve never thought much of the boundaries that people attach to my frame.”

a photo of a person climbing a rock wall, taken from above.
Take part in competitions and other fun community events in Lacey. The South Sound Pulldown is Cirque’s annual climbing competition where climbers of all kinds come together. Photo courtesy: Cirque Climbing Gym

Climb With a Community at Cirque Climbing Gym in Lacey

Cirque is a great resource for anyone interested in rock climbing or simply looking for community. There are day passes, 5-packs, and various membership options you can consider.

Find all the relevant details on the Cirque Climbing Gym website. Be sure to check online or call 360.915.8614 if you have questions about pricing, classes or upcoming events. You can always swing by the facility for an in-person tour at 8276 28th Court NE in Lacey.

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