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Rock Haven offers a wide variety of bouldering routes, classes and weights.

East County boulderers have a new mecca with the introduction of Rock Haven, Gresham's own climbing gym at 355 N.E. 223rd Ave. COURTESY PHOTO: TERESA DALSAGER - Rock Haven Climbing Gym officially opened its doors in Gresham in late August.

{obj:65599:Rock Haven's co-founders had been grappling with the idea of launching a gym for nearly two decades before they opened their East County location. The dream was shared by all four of the founders: Jen and Igor Zelen, Bill Righter and Travis Lovejoy. The group met in the early 2000s while bouldering at the same gym in Beaverton. They quickly became friends and slowly hatched the idea of starting a gym of their own. As the years went by the idea became more concrete until a plan was set to turn it into a reality.

Jen Zelen said the struggle to get all the right components to open the gym felt nearly insurmountable. "First, we had to find funding. Then we spent a lot of time looking for real estate because we needed a really big space," she said. "Once we set up, we then had to wait until after COVID-19 became more manageable before we could officially open."

Two grand opening events will be held at the gym with one from 4-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, and the other from noon-9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17.

The gym officially opened its doors in late August. The space has nearly 18,000 square feet of bouldering fun, which program director Juan Rodriguez said is perfect for all levels of expertise.

"The discipline concentrates on being able to pull off the most difficult moves possible," Rodriguez said. "Even so, bouldering has just become immensely popular, in part because of the ease of entry. You don't need any special kind of training; you don't need to know how to tie knots and you don't need to know how to work any safety devices." COURTESY PHOTO: TERESA DALSAGER - Rock Haven specializes in bouldering, which doesn't require a harness or ropes.

Rodriguez also said that since bouldering is a form of free climbing and doesn't use ropes or harnesses, equipment and expenses are minimal. The essentials are climbing shoes, a chalk bag and chalk for grip, all of which can be bought or rented at Rock Haven.

Rodriguez and Jen Zelen also made the point that their gym, and rock climbing in general, is perfect for anyone regardless experience level, age, strength or body type.

"A lot of people have a preconceived notion that you need to be of a particular body type." Rodriguez said. "But nothing could be further from the truth. In 22 years of climbing, I have worked with so many different climbers. There is just a huge diversity in body types, strength and experience."

Jen Zelen said they hope they can break down the barrier of entry for people who feel like climbing is not a sport for them.

There is also a social aspect of climbing that both Zelen and Rodriguez agree is something people can find at their gym. Not only does the gym offer birthday and group climbing events, but Rodriguez also said that becoming friends in the rock climbing gym is so natural that he sees it happen nearly every day.

And for those who prefer a solitary workout, Zelen said Rock Haven is a perfect place where someone can focus on developing their own skills and technique.

Rock Haven also offers many classes including Bouldering 101, Bouldering 201, yoga and strength and conditioning.

Name: Rock Haven Climbing Gym

Location: 355 N.E. 223rd Ave., Gresham

Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays; 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays

More: 503-512-5511; email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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