Montreal's Olympic Stadium opens its doors to climbing wall enthusiasts

·2 min read

Since the pandemic began, there hasn't been much use for Montreal's Olympic Stadium but this winter, recreational climbers will be able to practice their sport there.

Climbing is one of the few sports allowed under red zone health and safety protocols and, as a result, its popularity is reaching new heights.

After long shifts as a nurse at the Montreal Heart Institute, Anaïs Megard says climbing is her daily escape from the pressures of the job.

"By moving, by exercising, it's really important for your mental health and that's the only thing, well that's not the only thing that matters, but that's a really important thing that matters," she said.

Without events to host, the Olympic Stadium has opened its doors to Nomad Bloc — a company founded three years ago by four local engineers.

The portable climbing wall is typically used outdoors, when the weather is nice, and then stored away in the winter.

The Olympic Stadium is one of the few facilities in town big enough to host it indoors.

"It feels pretty amazing actually. We feel quite lucky to run the climbing gym. But in such an amazing place? It's a real cool setup," said Babacar Daoust, founder of Nomad Bloc.

CBC
CBC

Even before the pandemic limited people's options, the sport of climbing was in the midst of a boom.

"Ten years ago there were only two climbing gyms in the whole area. Now there's close to ten or twelve in Montreal and they keep opening up. Just because there's so much demand for it," said Daoust.

At the top level, climbing is set to be introduced at the Olympics in Tokyo next summer.

Cédric Essiminy, a spokesperson for the Olympic Park, told CBC that the facility is a good fit for people looking to stay active.

"We're trying to stay relevant. We are a place where we gather large events. So, right now it's not possible but activities like this are possible," he said.

People can rent time slots on the climbing wall in two-hour blocks until May.