GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two outdoor climbing structures at a Grand Rapids park are expected to open to the public next month.

Interchangeable hand holds went up over the weekend on the two 12-foot structures. Organizers will change the routes routinely to promote retention.

Kyle Heys, cochair of the Grand Rapids Boulder Project, said, “it builds strength but [climbing] is also really fun problem-solving.”

The structures are located at Highland Park along Grand Avenue NE. The project cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars. The money raised was split 50/50, with the city’s funds coming from a 2019 millage.

“There is a greater desire for more outdoor experiences,” said David Marquardt with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. “We see this new boulder wall as one way in which we can begin to achieve that new mission and vision.”

The other half of the money was raised through private fundraising and with the help of the West Michigan Chapter of the American Alpine Club. Boulder Park Project will provide free access to rock climbing for the community and “create a lively adventure culture in Grand Rapids.”  

Charlie Hall and Heys are cochairs of the Boulder Project. The two joined volunteers last weekend to continue the installation of the park.

“One of the reasons that we love bouldering is that it doesn’t take much equipment,” Heys said. “So, you can show up, even if you’ve never done it before, and just hop on the wall and start climbing.”

The structures are surrounded by soft, fall-friendly padding to cushion a fall.

“It is equivalent to a one-story structure,” Marquardt said. “It’s not too terribly high, but if there is ever any kind of a fall, that’s why we’ve got that safety surfacing down below.”