Toronto’s newest climbing gym is set to open sometime in late 2015 at 677 Bloor Street West, the home of the once-popular Metro Theatre.

The once-famous sign at the Metro Theatre.  Photo Emporis
The once-famous sign at the Metro Theatre. Photo Emporis

The new Bloor Street climbing gym will be called Basecamp and climbers can expect a modern Walltopia-designed wall. With vertical to overhanging walls aplenty, Basecamp will surely be popular as its location is prime real estate.

Metro Theatre opened for business in 1939 after being built by architects Kaplan and Sprachman who engineered a number of Art Deco theatres throughout Toronto. In the mid-70s, the Metro operators sought a new audience with their new film selection: adult films.

The rough-around-the-edges exterior of the Metro Theatre will be tidied up, but not tampered with to maintain the history of the building. It's the inside that matters.  Photo CBC
The rough-around-the-edges exterior of the Metro Theatre will be tidied up, but not tampered with to maintain the history of the building. It’s the inside that matters. Photo CBC

The Metro’s History

One room had 286 seats while the other had 320. It’s important to note that there was also a snack bar. Around 2000, the theatre started to offer a space for performances and kung-fu films.

In 2013, the Metro closed and two years later we await the opening of the next stage of the theatres’ life, Basecamp.

With nearly 15-metre-high ceilings and plenty of floor space, not to mention the close subway station, Basecamp is bound to be a heart-of-the-Annex for Toronto climbers.

The announcement of Basecamp Climbing comes in tandem with a Kickstarter campaign (offering several donation incentives including discounted memberships, lessons and more listed below) detrimental in making the gym a reality given the scope of the renovations necessary. The  Kickstarter page also includes an introductory video to the gym outlining the entire scope of the project.

The only rock climbing gym on the TTC subway line, located steps from Christie Station, Basecamp will feature walls reaching nearly 40 feet in height, making it the tallest rock climbing gym in the city. The gym will also feature climbing routes of various levels to accommodate new and advanced climbers.

Basecamp is the brainchild of owner Matthew Languay who is an avid rock-climber and has been involved in the construction of various rock climbing gyms across Canada. Languay has a diploma in Mechanical Engineering from Sheridan College.

“I had been searching for the perfect venue to build a rock climbing gym for over five years but most places that had the potential to even house a gym were only accessible for those with vehicles. For me, the goal through this entire project has been simple: make climbing accessible for everyone,” said Basecamp Owner Matthew Languay.

“Over a year ago I came across the Metro Theatre and realized there was a chance to do something positive with the space and knew this was to be the future home of Basecamp.”

Basecamp on Facebook

The new Walltopia wall at Toronto's newest climbing gym, Basecamp on Bloor.
The new Walltopia wall at Toronto’s newest climbing gym, Basecamp on Bloor. (Click on photo for more Walltopia walls)

The building’s extensive renovations, which are already underway, include:

  • The existing ceiling has been removed and will remain open with exposed steel
  • The building’s front wall (facing Bloor Street) is being pulled out by the old marquee. This wall needs to be completely reinforced
  • The marquee itself needs to be restored (which will stay in place in order to pay tribute to the former theatre)
  • The second floor and projector room on the third floor will be removed entirely and a new mezzanine floor constructed
  • The climbing walls will take up most of the main hall area with over 7,000 square feet of climbing surface

The Kickstarter campaign, aimed at raising $25,000, includes the following donation options:

  • $5 will get you a high five from Owner Matt Languay
  • $16 will get you a discounted day pass to the gym
  • $20 will get you a ticket to the pre-launch party. This will feature food, drinks, music, and live entertainment including aerialist performances
  • $25 and you will get a lesson to learn how to belay and climb in the gym
  • $40 will get you a lesson with two week membership
  • $30 will get you a one-of-a-kind handmade chalk bag
  • $50 will allow you to name or personalize one of the routes in the gym
  • $60 will get you a discounted one-month membership to the gym
  • $80 or more will get you a one-month membership and a ticket to the gym’s pre-launch party
  • $125 will be a birthday party for 5 or more patrons
  • $150 will get you a 10 pass card to the gym, the equivalent price of eight passes
  • $175 and you will become a three-month member of the gym
  • $190 for a three-month membership as well as ticket to the pre-launch party
  • $650 and you will be the first full year members at Basecamp. This incentive includes a ticket to the opening party as well as a hand made chalk bag
  • $1000 or more will get your “name up in lights,” meaning your name will be on the Basecamp marquee for one full month
  • $3000 will get you and five friends an all expenses paid camping and climbing weekend in Summer 2016 with Languay and select Basecamp staff
  • $8000 will allow you to rent out the entire gym for a full day before the gym officially opens to the public
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The new Walltopia wall at Toronto’s newest climbing gym, Basecamp on Bloor.

 

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