Friday, August 17, 2012

Rock Oasis Setback: New Gym on Morse St. Cancelled

This sucks.

The Rock Oasis Morse St. Gym Project is Dead 

A little over a year ago, my home climbing gym, The Rock Oasis, was forced to move from its historic location at Front and Bathurst to make way for a condominium development.

Since then, the gym has been operating at an interim ‘transitional’ location on Carlaw Avenue. Meanwhile, exciting plans were drafted to construct a lofty bespoke facility, on nearby Morse Street.

Alas, those optimistic plans have been derailed (see notice above).

I’m disappointed.

The remaining Oasis regulars have largely accepted the major weakness of the Carlaw location -- a dearth of height -- by rationalizing (perhaps fantasizing?) that soon enough, a delightful new gym (with 60 foot routes) would be built for us to play in. All we had to do was be patient.

Now -- I’m not sure what to think. Will another suitable spot be found in which to roost? Or are we stuck at Carlaw for the foreseeable future?

What’s your favourite gym?
I’m often asked what my favourite climbing gym is. My reply is that each spot has a different flavour, a different feel. The main factors to consider are location, route-setting, physical setup and facilities -- and the people who climb and work there. How to weight those factors is a unique equation for everyone. There isn’t a single definitive answer.

Settling in for a longer than anticipated stay...
Knowing that the Morse project is dead, I have to ask myself, is the Carlaw Rock Oasis the right choice for me long-term?

That sounds kind of harsh. Switching climbing gyms is not something I’m prepared to entertain lightly.

Have I been having fun at Carlaw? Sure. It’s grown on me. I like the spaciousness. The routes are thoughtful and challenging. I’ve come to know the surrounding neighbourhood, and I’ve still got lots of friends who frequent the place.

Heck, I even met a girl there. :)

But it hasn’t been the same, climbing-wise. So many times I’ve done a route and thought, that would be an amazing climb if another twenty or thirty feet were tacked on top.

I have a lot of respect for Karen McGilvray (the proprietor) -- not many people can say they’ve built three climbing gyms -- and Cort McElroy (the General Manager), so it’s really tough that things didn’t work out for the Morse scheme.

Guess I’ll have to sleep on it. Not to mention get working on that new orange 12a roof...

See Also
Between a Rock and a Great Place (pdf)
National Post article discussing some of the challenges faced by Ms. McGilvray in setting up the transitional gym on Carlaw.

The Bathurst Rock Oasis: A Look Back
Nostalgic photos of the Bathurst gym interior.

The Wreck of Rock Oasis: In Pictures
Photos from the demolition of the old Rock Oasis.

Farewell to Rock Oasis
A detailed historical examination of the industrial structure in which the Rock Oasis was originally located, as well as the surrounding neighbourhood of Front and Bathurst. The essay also includes an interesting (if I may be permitted to say so) interview with Ms. McGilvray on the history of the gym itself.