Ryan Borntrager

Ryan Borntrager

CEO/Founder – Warehouse Climbing Co.

Published Dec. 2023

Reaching New Heights

Warehouse Climbing Co. helping folks build confidence, fitness, friendships

Right now we offer bouldering at Warehouse Climbing Co. Bouldering is a type of climbing done over safety mats and at low heights, without the use of any ropes and harnesses.

Part of the big dream for the gym is to someday have a mobile climbing wall that we can take places, like First Fridays in downtown Goshen—and other events—so we can travel to give people the chance to experience the thrill of climbing. I also want to hit the ground running with more introductory kids classes and homeschool classes.

We currently use only half of the building we are in at 605 Logan Street in Goshen—in the future I’d also like to build out our program to include sport climbing, with harnesses and ropes, and all sorts of other activities that make working out fun.

Climbers overcome fears, accept challenges

I tried climbing for the first time about seven years ago. A buddy of mine got me into it, and my first-ever climbing experience was at a facility called Climb Kalamazoo, in Michigan. I was hooked from the start, and then my first outdoor climbing experience was at Red River Gorge in Kentucky.

When I first started it could be pretty scary, even just going up as much as 10 feet. But the more I did it, the better I got and it started to feel very rewarding. One thing about climbing is that very few people are naturally good at it. It takes a lot of work and practice. The more you climb, even if you struggled a lot at the beginning, you start to feel yourself getting better. You can feel as you progress and advance; you start to feel stronger, you feel your grip strength increase, and you feel your balance and core strength improve.

There’s something reassuring, even life-affirming, about activities that allow you to track and feel your progress. Being able to feel and measure your growth is part of what makes climbing such a confidence-building sport, and the other thing is that a lot of people have a fear of heights. It doesn’t feel natural, for some, to be up that high, and when you’ve put work in to be a better climber you’re not just improving physically but you’re also working to overcome that fundamental fear.

Climbing wall at Warehouse Climbing Co.
Ryan Borntrager
Warehouse Climbing Co.
Warehouse Climbing Co. heads outdoors
Warehouse Climbing Co. heads outdoors
Warehouse Climbing Co. heads outdoors

Top row: Ryan Borntrager (middle) is Founder and CEO, and the mastermind behind the climbing walls, at Goshen’s Warehouse Climbing Co. Bottom row: Climbers from Warehouse Climbing Co., led by Ryan Borntrager (middle), take to the outdoors for a climbing expedition.

To thine own self…

I’m from Goshen. I went to Fairfield High School and then I worked for a while in the family business, Borntrager Inc.

I lived out of town for about five years, and when I moved back I was at a point where I was thinking about changing my life direction. I’d grown older and had some time to think about my life, and I just felt like I needed to be doing something more in-line with the way I live. My lifestyle is centered around hiking, camping, and sports and athletics, and once I started getting into climbing it became clear to me that climbing encompassed so many of the things I already loved.

I ended up building a climbing wall at the family barn and I started having friends come over. One night around a bonfire we were talking about how cool it would be to have a climbing facility in Goshen and that really set me on this path. In 2020 we started renovating the gym space, and then Covid caused a lot of delays, but in May of 2022 we opened the doors.

Cross-training, being active with friends

Climbing is a full body workout and it’s great as a way to cross-train for other sports and athletic pursuits. I played a lot of basketball when I was younger and I was a good player, but after I’d been climbing for some time I discovered that all that extra strength and balance—the ability to have full body control—made me a much better basketball player.

We’ve had people in the gym over the age of 70, and we have a few members who are over 50. It can take time to build strength and confidence, but those who stick with it tend to see continued improvement.

One of the big reasons I was inspired to start the gym is the trend of seeing less people doing things outside. I see people on their phones so much, and I’m moved by the idea of inspiring people to move around more, get outside more, and to gather with friends in doing healthy activities. For people who are more into health, and are maybe not as much into the drinking and bar scene, it can be a challenge to find people with like interests. One thing I’ve witnessed is that this is a place where people bond and form lasting friendships based on this shared interest for climbing and physical activity.

The growing Good of Goshen

I’m thankful to be part of a great, supportive community in Goshen that gets behind its local businesses and organizations. It’s really a great feeling to be in a place where you know that if you put in the work to create something good or unique, the community will rally around you and support your efforts.

Climbing can be intimidating, so first and foremost—when people of any age or ability come into Warehouse Climbing Co.—we want them to feel welcome and we want them to feel confident that they’re in a safe place. And we want them to feel excited about trying out climbing.

We want people to feel free, and feel like they belong, and in many ways that’s how it feels to have a business or organization in the City of Goshen. Goshen is a welcoming atmosphere for people who want to learn, grow, work hard, contribute, and support one another—and the vibe inside of Warehouse Climbing Co. reflects those same values.

Warehouse Climbing Co., 605 Logan Street, is a Goshen climbing facility housing a 14’ tall/1700 sqaure foot boulder climbing wall. The facility features two training walls offering many routes, ranging from beginner to advanced, that change on a regular basis. Warehouse Climbing Co. provides rental shoes, chalk, and passes for climbers and other amenities include hang boards, a free weight workout area, rope and rings, a ping pong table, bathrooms, lockers, free wifi, a water refill station, and a big backyard to play in located right next to the historic Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. Learn more here https://www.warehouseclimbingco.com/.

Written by Jake Sandock

Photos courtesy of Warehouse Climbing Co.

Original publish date Dec. 2023