Interview With The Denver Bouldering Club

Interview With The Denver Bouldering Club

Last year the aptly named Denver Bouldering Club opened its doors to members offering 24 hours access to 1,500+ square feet of dedicated bouldering terrain.  Since I’ve been seeing examples of these co-op type gyms crop up all around the country lately I caught up with the DBC’s Lee Payne to learn a bit more about what they have going on at the DBC.

Tell us about the DBC and how it came it came into being?

The Denver Bouldering Club is a climate controlled, centrally located, rock climbing and training space…a bouldering gym, and so much more.  Our members have 24/7 access, can set their own routes, play their own music, and take advantage of personal training, yoga classes, and a member massage therapist.  It’s a place for strong climbers to push themselves, and for passionate beginners to learn from the most experienced in the city.  It came into being thanks to the unlikely marriage of Thomas Betterton, Lee Payne, and Kevin Brown, three local boulderers who care immensely for the sport and the community they felt was under-served in the area.

What are some of the challenges involved with running a gym like the DBC?

There are no challenges, only solutions.  Our philosophy is, “I think I can, I think I can, I think can.”  Thomas makes spreadsheets for everything, Lee makes sure everyone’s having fun, and Kevin is a salesman on steroids*, so things run really smoothly.  Plus, our members are amazing.  They have lent a hand to everything from donated coffee pots and climbing holds to bringing in cupcakes and other baked goods!  It’s their gym too, and they take pride in its well-being by giving back in special ways.  Which is good, cause none of the owners are very good at baking.

*Those guns are 100% natural ladies, just watch him train with Dave at Athletic Spesifik sometime.

What is the feedback like from members? What do they like about the DBC and what do they miss (if anything) from climbing at bigger gyms?

We are not The Spot or Movement, but then again Denver isn’t the ‘center of the universe.’ Our strategy revolves around catering to our members instead of the occasional guest. Their feedback is what shapes everything from route difficulty to future development plans.  Not everyone can build a wall in their basement, but as soon as our members buy into the DBC, we want to make it as much about them as possible.  Out of that, we have received some amazing appreciative feedback.  Check out some of the testimonials on our website, or just ask a member when you see them out at the crag.

You let members set their own problems? How well does that work??

We schedule setting nights about once a month.  All members are invited to help strip and set the gym.  It’s super fun, and in 8 or so hours we end up with 40 new problems.  There are a lot of members who have substantial setting experience, and others who are setting their first routes.  We tend to help tweak a lot of the routes, but the bottom line is an increase in variety of movement and difficulty.  All setters put their Initials on their routes, and that accountability combined with climbing’s competitive spirit helps add to the quality of routes a lot.  Bottom line; it works great, and gives many of our members an opportunity that they’ve never had before.

Anything else?

I noticed Thomas posted this above the entry way to the gym the other day.  It’s pretty powerful, and I think a testament to our members.  Denver is a busy town: workers work hard, studiers study hard, and players play hard.  We recognize that, and try to be a motivator for that go go go lifestyle:

“There are days where climbing seems to be much easier than anything else in life” – Thomas Meier

We’re serious about solidifying the climbing community in Denver.  In the past, it’s been spread out, in small groups, and now people have a central place to call home.  Climbers getting out every weekend will meet at the gym and head out together, or come by in the evenings just to hang.  That’s new for a gym in this town, and pretty cool to see.

My thanks to Lee Payne and the DBC for the interview.  If you want to learn more about the DBC you can check out their website.

You do have to be a member to climb at the gym, but you can always go check it out with an existing member or they have a “Tuesday Night Session” where guests can come check out the gym on their own.  Mention you saw this article on and receive half off a guest pass any Tuesday night in September.

All pictures courtesy of DBC on Flickr

Posted In: Interviews


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8 Responses to Interview With The Denver Bouldering Club

  1. Egghead August 31, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Loads of young strong boulderers are rushing out to buy a Honda Odyssey right now… LOL.

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  2. Flannery August 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Not only is the DBC awesome, but I sincerely think that the Honda Odyssey is the best car for a climber.

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  3. Skyler August 31, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    DBC is an incredible gym to train at! The fact that it is 24/7 accessible makes it the best gym around! Friendly members, great walls, nice problems, and strong climbers! Big thanks to Lee, Thomas, and Kevin for making such a great place for the Denver crowd!

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  4. Nietzsche August 31, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    What I love about the DBC is that it is entirely member driven and member focused. No other gym is as focused on creating an environment that is built as a bouldering training facility. Whether that means building a campus board modeled on Ben Moon’s at the School, a systems board that rotates so that you can change angel and difficulty new holds virtually monthly or downrating Lee’s problems the DBC has it all. Every night I walk in there is a wide range of focused climbers of varying range abilities. And so long as Thomas doesn’t get to the ipod jack first its bound to be a good night.

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  5. Erin September 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    Or as I heard from last week…Alexa’s ipod…

    DBC is member focused. From taking member suggestions to allowing members to set on set nights or other nights. It’s a great place to climb, wonderful walls and community. Wide ariety of climbers call the DBC home, from Beginners to some of the top climbers in Colorado, men and women. In fact, last Monday, the ratio was 90% women. We rocked it out.

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  6. Eli September 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Haven’t been there in a while, but what struck me about the gym was the “home-y” feeling. It literally feels like your in your basement working problems with your friends. People would stop to watch your send attempt and cheer you on. Everyone introduced themselves like you would if you we at a friends house. Good people…

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  7. Andrew September 10, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    I travel a lot for my job and have an opportunity to climb at many gyms across the US.

    The best gym to get strong and stay motivated is the DBC. Tall walls, cool holds, amazing members, and the best climbing gym ownership in the nation. Thomas, Lee, and Kevin continually listen to their members and implement their suggestions.

    When the DBC makes more money, their members see it. New floors, new walls, new holds, more training equipment, and a lot more.

    Check it out! Stick!

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  8. sock hands September 10, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    always a mega fun session to be had. i approve… even if i cannot climb harder than ‘easy’ there.

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