ITHACA, NY -- After getting into rock climbing while living in Boston, Keith Liao thought bringing the activity to the Ithaca area would be a natural fit. Liao is currently preparing to open Cayuga Climbs, a bouldering only gym with 15-foot walls for climbing.

“It’ll be about 2,000 square feet of bouldering,” he said. “But there’s room to expand if we get enough members.”

Liao went to physical therapy school in Boston, and one of his classmates was interested in the sport and decided to bring him along one day.

“I like the mental plus physical aspects of it,” he said. “It’s not like the more purely physical sports where it’s pure training. You can spend a lot of time thinking about where to place your hands or feet to get past where you thought there was a physical barrier.”

Liao worked as a physical therapist for four years, and then went back to school to get his MBA at Cornell University. While he was a student there, he started using Cornell’s climbing gym, and this helped him find a gap in the market here.

“It’s hard to access their climbing gym if you aren’t a student of affiliate,” he said. “I thought the public would definitely appreciate having something open to everyone.”

He said Cayuga Climbs will operate similarly to a regular gym in that people can purchase monthly memberships. He will also offer day passes and five-pack passes, as well as a family pass and a beginner’s introductory plan.

Because he wants beginners to feel safe and comfortable at his gym, the beginner’s package would offer a safety video and time with him to go over falling strategies to prevent injury. He also said it’s important for people to learn how to climb without just relying on their arms. 

“Bouldering is pretty beginner friendly,” he said. “There are no ropes, so you don’t need to know any knots or anything. There will also be a beginner’s section on the wall.”

And if you do fall, you’ll land on 14 feet of soft foam to ensure your safety.

There will also be a retail aspect to the gym, Liao said. He plans on having a climbing shoe store so people can try climbing shoes on in person, because he said it’s difficult to order them online. There will also be weight training equipment and a recreation area with a ping pong table.

Cayuga Climbs is located at 53 Hall Road near HitZ batting cages. The tentative opening date is May 1. For more info, visithttps://www.cayugaclimbs.com/.


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