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Allegheny

Ascend rock climbing gym expands to Bridgeville location

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, 7:45 a.m.
Climbers compete in the USA Climbing Youth Rust Belt Regional Bouldering Competition at Ascend in the South Side on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Climbers compete in the USA Climbing Youth Rust Belt Regional Bouldering Competition at Ascend in the South Side on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.
Climbers compete in the USA Climbing Youth Rust Belt Regional Bouldering Competition at Ascend in the South Side on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Climbers compete in the USA Climbing Youth Rust Belt Regional Bouldering Competition at Ascend in the South Side on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017.

America’s climbing craze continues to catch on in the Pittsburgh area.

Ascend, a rock climbing gym on the city’s South Side, announced on Facebook that they are opening a second location in Bridgeville. The new facility will be part of Newberry Market, a mixed use development in South Fayette Township. Ascend co-owner Paul Guarino says they hope to have the second location up and running in 2020.

“Being close to the South Hills, being right off of Route 79, being only 20-25 minutes from downtown, it kind of checks all the boxes for us in terms of an outside the city location,” said Guarino. “We can even capture some people from Ohio and West Virginia being that far south.”

Indoor rock climbing is becoming more and more popular in the U.S., perhaps due in part to the coming addition of the sport of climbing in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. According to Climbing Business Journal, 43 new commercial gyms opened in 2017, including Ascend in Pittsburgh in March of that year.

The local business was started by Guarino and fellow climbers Alex Bernstein and Aaron Gilmore who said they were determined to take the area’s climbing scene to the next level.

“Essentially climbing appeals to people that want to be physically fit but are a little tired of the traditional way that fitness has been presented to them ,” Guarino said “Climbing is a full body workout. It’s mentally engaging, it’s an incredibly social environment here. So, we have this community center vibe. Groups of friends are forming and they meet on certain nights and climb together and then go down to Carson (Street) and grab some beers afterwards.”

Gaurino said that initially he and his partners were looking for a building that had at least 50 feet of ceiling height but were unable to find one in the city and settled for a bouldering gym to start. He says the new facility will have the desired ceiling space.

“All along our vision was to open up a gym with what we call rope climbing and in particular tall rope climbing,” said Guarino. “The new facility will be larger overall and will have a good amount of bouldering still but in addition to that it will have tall rope walls for climbers and for the layman who is maybe not that familiar with climbing.”

Another key component of the new Ascend facility in Bridgeville will be a dedicated event and party space according to Guarino.

“We’ll still have fitness and yoga and all of the things that we have (on the South Side) but also a lot more.”

Paul Guggenheimer is a freelancer.

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