Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
On a normal day at Climb So iLL, climbers scale a giant eyeball, a purple elephant, and a giant tulip reaching toward the sky. These structures, inspired by Lewis Carroll and created by an architectural firm, reflect the gym’s unique aesthetic and a whimsical vision. The walls range in color from slate gray to bright purple, and accent lighting adds to snaking mezzanine levels and a well-stocked pro shop. The gym's modern design, which includes countertops and shop displays crafted from bamboo and recycled car hoods, blends into the original brick interior of the old power plant—from which designers salvaged steel and other debris to fashion the interior.
On each guest's first visit, a staff member escorts them around the facility to get them acquainted with safety protocol. Climbers scale 40 top ropes hung down from walls reaching up to 55 feet, along with smooth angles and overhangs across varied bouldering terrain. In a members-only 24-hour training zone open to all climbers during the day, they can practice navigating small overhangs and other problems. On-site personal trainers and instructors also help hone skill and movement techniques through basic belaying and lead climbing classes. An accredited route-setting team regularly tampers with the gym's routes to keep climbers alert and extra gecko-like. An advanced ventilation system circulates and cools the air by maintaining a constant indoor pressure, and tall windows and skylights keep vertical pathways well-lit.
Chesterfield Sports Fusion doesn't limit its visitors to just one or two attractions. Within the 30,000-square-foot facility, sport courts, electronic games, and an array of attractions create enough fun to share with the whole family, even weird second cousins. To pique competitive appetites, the facility hosts 35 arcade games and The Vault, a futuristic, laser-filled obstacle course. Modeled after a movie set, the laser-tag arena hosts matches amid two stories of black-lit scenery, and the trickling sounds of a waterfall serve as the soundtrack for an indoor 18-hole mini-golf course. For athletic play, Chesterfield Sports Fusion boasts a 20-foot climbing wall and a dodge-ball arena. Chesterfield Sports Fusion recognizes that having fun is for all ages and rents its facility out for everything from kids' birthday parties to corporate functions to ceremonies honoring a freshly made pair of dentures.