Rock climbing and coffee make a great combination in Fayetteville
Boulders and Brews offers a unique combination of rock climbing and coffee in an indoor environment in the heart of Fayetteville’s entertainment district.
Walk into the facility and you’re hit with 3,000 square feet of climbing surface. Every shape and color of climbing wall hold — jugs, slopers, pinches, pockets, crimps and footholds — dots the surfaces from floor to ceiling and in some places, even the ceiling.
Patrick Randall, Fallon Cardoza and Jason Lam are the owners of Boulders and Brews, an 11,000-square-foot facility with 9,500 square feet upstairs and 1,500 square feet downstairs.
It is bouldering only, meaning there are no ropes. The indoor bouldering walls are 13 to 14.5 feet tall and the climb, unassisted by ropes, takes place over thickly padded floors that cushion the impact of a fall. “You don’t have to tie in and tie off. You don’t have to wait for other people,” Randall said. “A lot of climbers like bouldering inside and ropes outside.”
The traditional bouldering wall routes range in skill level for beginners to advanced climbers. “A lot of people who enjoy this stuff are of all ranges and ages,” Randall explained.
Located at the edge of the University of Arkansas campus, the climbing gym is popular with men and women. “Most gyms are predominantly male,” Randall said. “Our diversity is about 50/50 which is incredible.” To make sure women feel welcome, Cardoza runs a women’s night to integrate new people. She pairs newbies with experienced climbers to help “read the beta,” lingo for learning the way to climb a particular route.
Any newbie to the sport can ask any of the staff for help. “All of our staff climb,” Randall explained. “We’ve gone outside and climbed as a team together. Our staff is really knowledgeable.”
Randall said the marked routes will build confidence and challenge climbers, no matter their skill level. The routes in the entire gym turnaround about every 6 weeks with the route setters setting two new walls every week to keep things interesting.
“It’s a physical workout but it's also a mentally stimulating workout,” Randall said. “It’s such a beautiful sport that anyone and everyone can do.” Unlike other team sports, here you are competing against yourself, he added. Climbers have to challenge themselves to figure out a successful route and to keep trying if they don’t succeed. “You’re competing against the wall,” he said. “It’s a tie between it being a sport and being spiritual.”
Other climbers are supportive as well though. “That’s everything that I wanted in this gym is just people cheering on other people,” Randall said.
“Arkansas as a state has a lot of great rock climbing,” Randall added. Outdoor climbers mostly use indoor gyms to train when weather prevents outdoor climbing. So, the climbing gym installed a state-of-the-art kilter board for training. More than 95,000 routes have been programmed on it and that number keeps growing since anyone can add his or her own routes to the app. On a route, LED lights on the board light up in green, blue, yellow or pink. Green is for hands, blue is for hands or feet, yellow is feet only and pink is for the finish hold. The board is fully adjustable. It can be upright or lowered to varying degrees to add difficulty.
“Advanced climbers can outgrow an indoor gym pretty fast,” Randall added. “So the kilter board helps with that. It’s the first one in Arkansas and provides Arkansans the climbing they deserve. We’ll keep pushing the standard for Arkansas climbing.”
Like the climbing, they take their coffee offerings serious as well. “We do take pride in our coffee,” Randall said. Currently, the head route setter for the gym, who is owner of Eight Nineteen Coffee, also roasts the coffee. In addition to coffee, they serve a few snacks, matcha and tea. “Everything is sourced local,” Randall said. Fayetteville’s Pink House Alchemy provides syrups and the tea comes from Savoy Tea Co.
In addition to the climbing and coffee, the upstairs has a ping pong table, hammocks and couches. Benches, some with tables, line portions of the wall. Remote workers or students sometimes work or study there taking breaks to climb.
The downstairs contains weights for weight training and also offers fitness classes, such as yoga and HIIT to help climbers keep in shape.
All classes are included with membership. The gym offers memberships and day passes. If you decide you want a membership after buying a day pass they will deduct the cost of the day pass from the price of the full membership.
What to Wear
Wear clothes you would typically wear to any gym, something flexible and comfortable that you can move in. Boulders and Brews rents shoes if you don’t have your own as well as chalk bags. They also sell climbing shoes.
When You Go
You’ll need to sign a waiver. There’s also a tutorial video about the gym.
It’s open on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The grand opening for Boulders and Brews was Nov. 4, 2022.