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. If all goes well, the building will open at the end of 2019 or in early 2020.
The Charests say the new space will be between 10,000 and 13,000 square feet—double the size of the current 6,000-square-foot gym. Some of the walls will reach as high as 45 feet tall, though Andrea stressed the importance of keeping beginner routes for novice climbers. They also plan to double the number of routes, add multi-pitch transitions and repel platforms to mimic outdoor climbs, and even make the routes available to organizations like Vermont Adaptive.
They’ll expand the bouldering section and no-drag-mat format of the current gym. The design process is still in progress, but if the Charests’ dreams come true, the new building will feature a rooftop deck, to be used as a social space, that will overlook the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.
More than anything, Andrea and Steve hope to maintain the close-knit, family-friendly atmosphere that PetraCliffs currently provides. “We’ve been working on improving our presence in the community for a long time, and it’s amazing that this opportunity opened up for us,” Andrea said. “We feel really fortunate that we’ll be able to stay in the community that we’ve grown in. The South End is really vibrant, and we’re excited to be a part of it.