Brian and Abby Thompson met in college, fell in love, and are both avid outdoors people! Abby is an eye doctor and Brian is a trained entomologist. You can find the Thompsons ripping up Showdown Ski Area in the winter, biking in the spring, hiking and climbing in the summer, and mountain biking in the fall.
This dynamic duo founded Hi-Line Climbing Center, the first climbing gym in Great Falls, Montana. Their bouldering gym offers a place for adventurers of all levels to find community, get exercise, and sharpen their skills before climbing in the wild.
Climbing in a bouldering gym is a unique experience. There are no ropes, no knots, no belays. Instead, climbers rely on the tenacity of their bodies’ strength, grip, and flexibly to maneuver vertical obstacles mounted to the walls of the gym. Some walls reach as high as 25 ft. The gym is meant to simulate climbing actual “boulders” in nature.
The gear you need is light. A pair of snug climbing shoes is a must. Chalk and a bag to carry it in is optional, but highly recommended. Flexible athletic clothing will help you maximize your movements.
At Hi-Line a waiver is required to climb. But once your documents are filed novices and experts alike are free to take to the bouldering walls. The staff at Hi-Line are experts and are committed to helping new climbers have a safe yet challenging experience.
They are quick to give tips like, “All your power is in your legs, think about your movements in terms of where your feet are going, and push off from there,” and “keep your hips close to the wall and try to keep your arms straight whenever possible.”
Climbing of any type requires patience and endurance, but the pain is worth the reward. Looking around the gym you are quick to be inspired by the human version of spider-monkeys contorting their lithe bodies into unimaginable shapes. Like lightening, an experienced climber’s movements catapult them from one sidewall position to the next, advancing their way to the top of the wall.
There are few hangout spaces as casual as Hi-Line Climbing Center. The environment gives off an easy-to-breathe vibe. Everyone is relaxed. Pods of people are often sitting on the thick climbing mats that line the floor below the bouldering walls, scheming up new ways to conquer the latest routes.
The community built at Hi-Line Climbing Center is a crucial part of why Abby and Brian started their business. Their commitment to a fun, inclusive, and welcoming environment is an added benefit of the recreation experience. Locals and regulars quickly offer tips and advice; people are quick to smile.
If climbing is new for you or if you’ve been mastering mountains for years; you’ll feel right at home at Hi-Line.
Hi-Line Climbing Center offers a suite of services to get you started on your bouldering excursion. Youth camps and climbing teams are offered to kids, and Hi-Line offers birthday party packages. There are regular theme nights like Friday night date night and women’s only climbing.
Hi-Line expanded their climbing square footage in 2018 and regularly changes up their routes. They also have a small retail space in the lobby to purchase shoes, chalk, and memorabilia.