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Climbers' paradise up for sale

A climber takes to the walls of Vertical World. The East Bremerton business is currently up for sale and if no potential buyers come forward, the indoor rock climbing facility could close by the end of April. - Courtesy photo
A climber takes to the walls of Vertical World. The East Bremerton business is currently up for sale and if no potential buyers come forward, the indoor rock climbing facility could close by the end of April.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

By RACHEL BRANT

Staff writer

Katie Perrone and her family began climbing at Vertical World six years ago.

Come the end of April, the Bremerton family will either have to give up rock climbing or find another indoor climbing gym.

The assets of the East Bremerton gym are for sale and if no buyers come forward, Vertical World may be forced to close at the end of April, according to Rich Johnston, Vertical World majority owner. Vertical World’s walls, holds and everything inside its doors are up for sale.

“The majority owner is an entity that operates multiple gyms and so they’ve decided Kitsap isn’t a strategic fit for their operations,” said Sara Lingafelter of Poulsbo, a Vertical World climber.

Lingafelter and her husband have been climbing at the gym for three years. Lingafelter and a group of nearly 40 gym members meet regularly to discuss a possible acquisition of the assets.

“We’ve been trying to get exposure for the gym and that the assets are up for sale,” she said. “In case no one comes forward, we’ve been working on doing a possible acquisition for the members.”

Perrone and her family, including her 8-year-old and 11-year-old sons, are members of Vertical World and will sorely miss the facility if it closes.

“Most of us who are members can’t imagine life without this gym,” Perrone said.

Many climbers from the Bremerton Vertical World go on to compete in national rock climbing competitions and the programs, especially children’s activities, continue to draw more people.

“We’ve got a core group of families that are really devoting a lot of time to it (acquisition project). I’ve spent a third of my time on this project,” Lingafelter said. “We’ve made a lot of progress on what this place could be and just how much potential is here.”

Vertical World has climbing gyms in Seattle, Redmond, Everett and Bremerton and Johnston said he’s been thinking about closing the Bremerton gym since last year.

“I think it should be open, but if nobody wants it we do have to close it,” Johnston said. “It just needs a little bit more attention than I can give it.”

Brad Albro, a current owner of Vertical World in Bremerton, said the indoor climbing facility had some financial problems and said if no one buys the gym it might be liquidated in the near future.

“It’s a situation we didn’t want to get in to,” Albro said. “It’s going to tear a hole in everybody’s hearts, climbing wise.”

Vertical World opened in 2001 and the gym currently has about 300 members. Adults and children enjoy the indoor climbing facility, Lingafelter said, and the children are the “driving forces” behind the members’ hopes of saving Vertical World.

“That’s one of the real driving forces, us as grown-ups can drive to Tacoma (to climb at another gym),” Lingafelter said.

Aside from the hundreds of Vertical World gym members, Lingafelter said the facility draws people from all over the area.

“Climbing gyms tend to draw members within a 45-mile radius,” she said. “People come from Port Townsend, Belfair, Bainbridge Island and folks from the other side of the water come to visit the gym.”

Johnston said he is selling the assets for “way below the replacement cost” and “for a third of what (he) paid for it.”

People interested in the sale can contact Johnston at (206) 784-2846 or e-mail rich@verticalworld.com for a sales package and more information.

Anyone interested in contacting the member group working on the acquisition can contact Lingafelter at (360) 598-9777 or e-mail sara@firstascentlaw.com.

“I want to be positive about it but I got to be realistic at the same time,” Albro said. “I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m hoping, but we’ll see.”

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