Climbing the walls

Published 7:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2016

High Point Climbing and Fitness Birmingham opens on U.S. 280

By Emily Sparacino

Photos by Keith McCoy

A new climbing facility on the U.S. 280 corridor in northern Shelby County is open and ready to take residents to new heights.

High Point Climbing and Fitness, a nearly 35,000-square-foot facility, offers a variety of climbing and fitness options for families in the area.

“Anybody can come in and climb. You can be 3 years old to 80,” Marketing and Communications Coordinator Ben Lowe said. “There is literally something for everybody here.”

The Birmingham location of High Point, which originated in Chattanooga, Tenn., features a rope climbing room, a bouldering room and a kid zone, along with rooms for birthday parties, yoga classes and cardio and weight training upstairs.

With walls nearly 52 feet high, the rope climbing area is designed for beginner and advanced climbers alike and allows for top rope climbing and lead climbing. To accommodate the rope room, the facility almost doubled in size.

Lowe said High Point’s goal is to offer rock climbing for a range of ability levels and preferences.

People can work on slab climbing, they can visit a rappel station and they can take classes. Scouts can even earn their climbing merit badge at High Point.

“We will be able to do all that stuff in-house,” Lowe said. “For families here looking for things to do on weekends, it’s such a different activity.”

In the bouldering room, climbers don’t need a harness or rope to climb. The walls, between 10 and 14 feet tall, are covered in climbing grips.

“It’s more strength-based, whereas rope climbing is typically more endurance-based,” Lowe said.

An area expected to see much activity is the Kid Zone, a smaller-scale climbing area outfitted in colorful, child-oriented wall themes (think dinosaurs, fire trucks and more).

“The Kid Zone is, by far, one of the most popular areas in Chattanooga,” Lowe said.

A second-level birthday party room overlooks the Kid Zone.

The party room has a refrigerator, icemaker and sink. Another room upstairs can also be rented for birthday parties, business meetings or team-building activities, Lowe said.

The yoga room features rubberized flooring and large windows overlooking a serene view of the woods behind the building.

“All classes will be set up that anyone can join any of the classes for free with a membership or a day pass,” Lowe said. “It’s everything you’d see in your typical fitness facility. It’s going to be the whole package.”

High Point also has locker rooms, showers and full-size saunas.

Work to completely renovate the building – formerly a fitness facility – started about six months ago, Lowe said.

“The building was in pretty bad shape when we got it, but we did a total renovation,” Lowe said. “High Point acquired the building just under a year ago.”

Business partners John Wiygul and Johnny O’Brien opened the original High Point Climbing and Fitness in downtown Chattanooga in 2013. They purchased another facility in Chattanooga in 2015.

“This will be our third facility,” Wiygul, who is also president of High Point, said of the Birmingham facility. “We’re really excited for people in the Birmingham area to have a great place to go rock climbing.”

High Point Birmingham will host the Vulcan Cup competition Dec. 16 and Dec. 17.

Lowe said High Point’s expansion to U.S. 280 signals the company’s efforts to meet a growing demand for climbing gyms in the area.

“The climbing community in Alabama has been growing,” he said. “I like to stress to folks a lot of people treat climbing as their workout, including myself. You could come here every weekend for the rest of your life and there would constantly be something new to do.”

Lowe said training classes likely will be offered soon, and guided outdoor climbing trips are a possibility.

“We will have a youth climbing team as well,” Lowe said. “That has been a huge part of our climbing gym in Chattanooga. Youth climbing has just exploded up there.”

High Point Climbing and Fitness Birmingham is located at 4766 U.S. 280, Birmingham.

For more information, call (423) 602-7625 or visit

“We’ve got a lot of community support, and we offer lots of ways to get involved,” Wiygul said. “We will be one of the largest facilities in the Southeast. At High Point, we focus on building rock climbing facilities, and building the best indoor climbing facilities we can.”