Brian McKune is hoping to have the shell of a building at 1560 SE Stephens St., filled with people climbing up the walls by the end of the summer, fulfilling a 10-year long dream.
The 3,200-square-foot building is split into two large rooms: the shop side and the office side from when it was Roseburg Auto Repair. McKune is building out the shop side with the bouldering half of the gym first.
“It’s long overdue,” McKune said. “We’re going for an elite gym here; the look, the feel. It’s not going to be just a normal everyday garage-type of gym. It’s going to be as professional looking as every other gym that’s out there.”
McKune has been climbing in the Umpqua Valley since he was 15 years old and the adrenaline rush and excitement have kept him climbing for over 20 years.
“The excitement, the adrenaline rush, I like figuring out the problems,” McKune said. “We’re going to have routes in here from novice, never climbed before all the way up to professional for climbers looking to get a little extra training in.
Since he opened Douglas County Trail Guides at 516 SE Jackson St., he’s had an increasing number of people ask him about opening a climbing gym.
“I just found a good opportunity,” McKune said. “I need to take advantage of it.”
Once the room is cleared out and cleaned up, steel framing will go up against the brick walls. McKune said the demolition part is almost finished and once the building is cleared out, he will start working on securing the building. He plans to not hire an outside climbing wall company, but to build his own.
“A majority of the money being saved here is just building in-house,” McKune said.
McKune said the bouldering side, which doesn’t use ropes or technical gear, just shoes and chalk on a shorter wall, should be open in six months “but hopefully sooner.” Around that time, he’ll start on the climbing side, which requires harnesses, ropes and a much higher ceiling.
“That side will be done in a year,” McKune said. “You should see the roof off in about six months.”
He plans on making the roof 40 feet high. He also plans on leaving the garage doors on the building and using them for extra ventilation in the summer.
“I have been looking for a building, that’s been the main holdback as far as opening a gym, for five to six years,” McKune said. “There are no buildings in Roseburg with the ceiling height.”
During his search, he met Magnus Johannesson who owns several buildings in and around Roseburg. He shared his idea and Johannesson tried to help him get the gym going, but it didn’t work out. Later on, in 2018, he bought the building on Stephens St. for $295,000. McKune found it and discovered Johannesson owned it. The idea reignited and they negotiated a five-year lease on the building.
“It’s been Brian’s goal for a while to open up a climbing gym,” Johannesson said in an email. “I’m just glad I happened to have a building that was suitable to his needs. It should be a wonderful addition to Roseburg and help create vibrancy downtown.”
Douglas County Trail Guides sells climbing gear in the store and McKune plans to move the whole operation to the new building soon. He hasn’t settled on a name for the gym yet, but said he wants community input. He plans on having membership registration specials in the next couple of weeks.