Last weekend, the new owners of Joe Rockhead’s closed its doors, temporarily, for some much-needed renovations.

This is not the first time Rockhead’s, or “Joe’s” to some, has been remodelled – there have been some major changes in the past – but the last big update was about 18 years ago so for many of its current members this reno is a first and those floors coming up and walls coming down marks the end of an era.

And so, this (not a) love letter, by Jon Pencharz, is both timely and touching…

Ayo Sopeju. Photo by Migüel Jetté

For Joe Rockhead’s

This is not a love letter. Junkies don’t write love letters to their pushers. Maybe it’s a self-intervention? Joe’s has taken so much from me, my years and tears, it’s broken and bled me. If you need my DNA don’t come to my house, go to Joe’s and scrape it off the walls.

Gym rats don’t need to explain. The mountain, the cliff, even the boulder make sense (look! I stood on top of that one time!) but your gym proj – the one you spent five full sessions on – is back in the hold room being hosed off, soon to be footholds on a 5.9. Such is gym life and such is Joe’s.

28+ years of people madly pulling against gravity all in the same place must create some sort of well, alter the landscape, dent the pavement. So yes, Joe’s is dented, some caused by me, but it has dented my ego enough, I figure we’re even.

Joe’s opened before the drop knee was known as a rock-climbing technique in Ontario (it was brought back from Europe by one of the original owners) and so to this day, those who climbed there before the revelation arrived sustain a sick sort of lock-off strength as all they knew for years was square up and lock down.

I came later so I have no excuse except an aversion to campusing and stretching properly. Nevertheless with countless others I flailed up the steep lead walls against sandbags galore. 5.12- could mean anything from 5.12c to 5.13b but almost never 5.12a or 5.12b.

I gave and received endless amounts of shit talk while sessioning some eliminate and repeatedly hitting the too-firm, too-frayed, and too-few pads with some of the finest climbing addicts who hadn’t yet decided to move to Squamish. Joe’s sucked us all in, smacked us around, and minced us into something like a community.

Joe’s sucked us all in, smacked us around, and minced us into something like a community.

The community has morphed and reset itself a few times over the years and new owners are now smoothing out many of the dents with a much needed facelift and some of the changes might even make me sad but the original home of the plastic puller will live on to crush our souls just as sure as I try to crush my next fleeting proj. – Jon

Some usual suspects. Photo by Migüel Jetté

Tell us what’s to love about your climbing gym! Send your letter to See original post here, a love letter to Project Cloverdale here, to Planet Rock here and The V’sion here.