With the development of Kaka‘ako underway, plans of tearing down structures and walls are essential for its rebuilding process, but not at the Volcanic Rock Gym (VRG)
. Justin Ridgely, the owner of the VRG
, turned what was once a weight lifting gym into a bouldering gym. An alternative to "the normal" repetitive workout.
Upon entering, you are greeted with the sight of brightly colored walls of orange and blue. With an artistic-creative eye, it resembles a hollow tubed wave, leading you straight to the back of the gym. I sat down with Ridgely and hit him with a few questions to get familiar with the sport of bouldering, how he was introduced to it, and his thoughts about the future of bouldering in Hawaii. FITTED HAWAII (FH): What is bouldering?
Justin Ridgely: Bouldering is climbing rocks at reasonable heights, without a rope or harness. The movements are very dynamic and balance-y. Also, the falls are not life threatening. You are more at risk of an injury occurring...rather than a fatality. (with a light chuckle to follow the answered question) FH: How did you get into bouldering?
Ridgely: I got into bouldering through a friend. He would always go into the woods. I was curious and went with him one day. Been hooked ever since. I started climbing in the purest way, no pads, no chalk, rattle snakes, and getting chased by turkeys. Attended Tennessee Temple University and eventually dropped out, cause all i wanted to do was climb. After dropping out, i travelled a bit. Climbing became my lifestyle. FH: What gets you up in the morning?
Ridgely: Nothing gets me up in the morning, (light chuckle) if i could sleep all day, i would. The only things that get me up in the morning is coffee, my son Ronin, if he want to play, and bouldering, of course. FH: Why did you move to Hawaii?
Ridgely: I moved to Hawaii because of my son Ronin. Wife at the time, was stationed out here through the military and I was committed to going where ever he went. After three months of living here, I opened up the VRG in Waipio. FH: How does the culture of climbing in Hawaii differ from the climbing on the mainland?
Ridgely: The bouldering community overall is a friendly community, but from my experiences, the culture of climbing in Hawaii is a bit more social compared to the mainland. On the mainland, there's more opportunity to have a competitive edge, where people tend to be more to themselves or in smaller crews. In Hawaii its more about motivating each other and building community, since the sport is still so young in Hawaii. No matter what level of climbing, everyone encourages each other. FH: What is the difference between climbing indoor and outdoor?
Ridgely: The difference between climbing indoor and outdoor is that, indoor you're climbing on holds
rather than climbing outdoors, you're climbing feature (A protrusion or indentation on an indoor climbing wall which is permanently moulded into the wall itself). But its a progression, climbing indoors is practice for outdoors although, they are both very different. You wont understand until you go outdoors and climb. When indoors you're willing to take more risk and make more dynamic moves because you have something to break your fall. FH: (If you could tell the future) Where do you see the sport of bouldering going in Hawaii?
Ridgely: Since opening the gym, the bouldering community has grown. Bouldering in Hawaii has always existed, but there's so much more rock to go out and discover, we gotta start going outer island. FH: Before closing the interview Ridgely wanted to say a few words...
Ridgely: Just want to thank everyone and the community. In Hawaii, community support is everything. Support encourages me to get better whether its climbing or running the gym. Hawaii is surrounded by motivated people. Thank you, and if you know of any boulders anywhere email, call, or come to the gym!Volcanic Rock Gym
432 Keawe St.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: (808) 397-0095
I also had the honor of following Ridgely, along with Kurtis Loo, Bryce Yafuso, and Tyler Williams deep into the jungles of Oahu and experience the adventure of bouldering outdoors.
The Journey to Kong Boulders from FITTED on Vimeo.