Andrea and Steve Charest, co-owners of PetraCliffs, the climbing gym in Burlington loved by many, have long dreamed of expanding their current facility.
“We’ve been looking for about 2 years for a new building to grow, because there’s still room for growth,” Andrea told Vermont Sports in November of 2016. “It was our five-year plan when we bought the business to grow into a bigger, taller facility and we’re still on track for that.”
Now, that dream is becoming a reality. The couple just bought land next to City Market/Onion River co-op’s new location—a 1.7-acre parcel at 75 Briggs Street—and next summer, they’ll break ground for a bigger, taller, state-of-the-art facility.
“We want to modernize things a little bit while still keep the same feel that we have,” Andrea said in 2016. “There’s definitely a different feel here than other gyms—just that warm community feel—so we need to find that balance.”
Andrea and Steve Charest bought PetraCliffs in April of 2012, and their history with the gym started long before. Steve, who studied Outdoor Education while attending Johnson State, started interning with PetraCliffs in 2001, and he was on the committee that hired Andrea a few years later. The two fell in love with climbing—and each other.
The current facility’s 26-foot-tall walls hold lead climbing, top rope terrain and over 44 routes ranging from the easiest 5.5’s to advanced 5.13’s. The separate, 14-foot-tall bouldering stations hold 64 boulder problems that range from a V0 to v10+.
Andrea and Steve attest to the close-knit, family-friendly atmosphere that the gym seems to be founded on. “You can be climbing next to a four-year-old on one side and a world-class climber on the other,” Steve says. “It’s that kind of blending of the community, where it doesn’t matter, your skill level. You’re right next to each other.”
To read more about the growth of climbing in Vermont, check out our story here.