Elevate Climbing Walls, LLC was founded by Vertical World, Inc., America’s First Climbing Gym, established in 1987. Building climbing walls came out of the era of no handholds and no availability of manufactured climbing walls. Vertical World wanted to build its own gyms and expand, thus creating the need to develop its own wall building system. Our first climbing walls were built with plywood and glued on rocks. Those were the days when pea gravel was the norm for landing surfaces and risk management was not in the vocabulary of the industry. Those were scrappy times of trying to figure it out as went along.

Caltech University

In 1989, we developed the first concrete surface-based climbing panels. It took years to develop the technology and systems for what is now the finest climbing wall panel on the market.

Now 30 years later and over 3 million square feet of panel in service, Elevate Climbing Walls is the proven leader in panel production and wall construction. Projects have ranged from small residential wall to entire climbing gym buildouts.

Founder Richard Johnston in front of the new Seattle Vertical World.

Vertical World was founded in 1987 by Rich Johnston. Rich has been active in all levels of the industry, including being a founding Board member, and Chairman of the CWA for 17 years, being an expert in risk management, involved in climbing wall specification standards and being an advocate for the industry on many levels. Through his experience over the years there is one axiom that is paramount: it is easier to build a climbing gym than to operate a climbing gym. Vertical World has over 30 years of experience in operations, risk management, and systems in the industry. This knowledge is available to Elevate Climbing Wall clients when in engaging on projects ranging from home climbing walls to large commercial rock-climbing gyms.