A Mount Desert Island couple are hoping to complete construction of Maine’s third dedicated indoor climbing facility and open it in early December.
Since last fall, workers have been building the Volta Climbing Gym on Route 3 in Trenton. The roof is finished, the inner shell will be insulated with spray foam this week. After that, a team from the climbing plate manufacturer Entre-Prises will spend several weeks assembling climbing plates.
Jesse Cameron and Ann Grinnell said they hope the gym – which will include 8,000 square feet of vertical climbing space, weights, exercise equipment, and retail space – will be open and ready to use by December 1.
Cameron and Grinnell said they want to attract customers from MDI, but also from the greater region, including the Bangor area. The only other dedicated climbing gyms in Maine are Evo Rock + Fitness in Portland and Salt Pump Climbing Co. in Scarborough, they said.
Seasoned climbers are already drawn to the area, especially in the summer for Acadia National Park and other climbing areas in eastern Maine, but Cameron and Grinnell hope to attract a wide range of customers. For people who don’t have their own, the gym will rent climbing equipment.
“People crave alternative activities,” especially in winter, Grinnell said. “It meets a need in east Maine.”
They offer training courses as well as packages for schools in the area, training for search and rescue groups, and retreats for companies looking to do team building exercises for their employees. Climbers of all skill levels are welcome, including those with disabilities, they said.
“There will be a lot of new climbers here,” said Cameron. “The security will also be great. Safety will be the greatest here “
The building, which has a footprint of nearly 10,000 square feet, will have 4,500 square feet of walls for rope climbing up to 12 meters high and 3,500 square feet of wall space for bouldering, which requires climbing close enough to the ground, no ropes are required. The panels to be installed have interchangeable climbing elements or handles so that the climbing routes can be changed from one visit to the next.
Part of the vision for Volta – a random word the couple chose when they searched their gym online – is to create a space where people of all abilities can set and strive for their own health goals, Grinnell said. They want Volta to be accessible and inclusive and also sustainable. They are trying to source and procure materials and supplies that are sustainably produced and plan to install a 30 kilowatt solar array on the building’s flat sloping roof.
“It’s going to be a cool place,” said Grinnell. “The accessibility and sustainability components are enormous for us.”