Dear V’sion, I don’t know where I should start, but let me start by saying, we loved you and we all miss you.
We loved you for as long as I can remember and I guess the first time we told you was when we realized how much you meant to us.
You opened your doors nearly 20 years ago and for over a decade, us local Canmore climbers crammed into your space on Boulder Avenue.
We’d be welcomed by your owner Dung Nguyen, his dog Leah and sometimes his tortoise Yoda. Chalky copies of Gripped magazine and the local newspaper could be found scattered throughout.
For the first few years, you liked to push us on hard problems above thin gym mats on a concrete floor. Some of us left unscathed, some limping a little.
But you soon discovered your love for us and gifted us big pads that would absorb our 15-foot falls from the tops of your brightly coloured walls.
Your varied-angled walls were decorated with all different colours of duct tape. We worked hard to follow that tape. Once in and while, some of us would tie into a rope and clip the two- and three-bolt highballs.
We were long-armed, slender, petite, bulky, scrawny, tall, small, muscled, stocky and chubby. We came to train our fingers, toes, shoulders, backs, tummies and arms. We would show up psyched and stoked or mad and sad, but always left glad.
We were Quebecois, Albertan, American, Ontarian, Manitoban, European, Maritimian, British Columbian and more.
You heard us talk about Chris Sharma sending Biographie and Sonnie Trotter climbing Forever Expired. You watched Will Gadd hang endlessly from ice tools and witnessed now-senders (like Alex Fricker, the Frangos Twins and Allison Vest to name a few) grow up beneath your flat-topped industrial roof.
You helped bring Canada’s first IFSC World Cup to the country. Yes, it took place in an outdoor field in Canmore, and, yes, it snowed 75 millimetres on the climbers.
It was many of their first times climbing in Canada, and they came to see you. Climbers like Akiyo Noguchi, Klemen Becan, Jain Kim, Sean McColl and Anna Stohr.
We didn’t want you to leave. Honestly, I didn’t. A red, broken piece of plywood from one of your walls sits on my bookshelf.
With hammers and chainsaws, climbers tore through plywood and metal. It wasn’t pretty and no one was happy. We laughed and cried as we watched your walls fall to the concrete floor.
Since you left, those who stayed have been through tough times and great times and because of that I think we’re stronger.
The new gym in town treats us well and we’re happy it’s in our lives. It’s taller than you and has nice curves. You should see it, you wouldn’t believe how far things have come.
However, from time to time, a group of us who knew you best will reminisce about the light from the setting sun warming the walls through the open bay doors and about sitting with Leah on the mats as friends flailed and sent. Those were the days.