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Volcanic Rock Gym — Kakaako (Moved)

Volcanic Rock Gym owner, Justin Ridgely

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UPDATE (6/16/2015): Volcanic Rock Gym now has two locations on Oahu. Volcanic Rock Gym – Kailua, HI and Volcanic Climbing & Fitness – Honolulu, HI.

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This is Justin Ridgely. He’s a rock climber in Hawaii. You can see him climbing in a bunch of the “Bouldering in Hawaii” photos and in this video.


This is his kava plant.


These are his pineapples.

Volcanic Rock Gym, indoor rock climbing in Honolulu, Hawaii

And this is his rock climbing gym.

Volcanic Rock Gym, indoor rock climbing in Honolulu, Hawaii

Justin is the owner of Volcanic Rock Gym. He just opened a new location in Kaka’ako, a neighborhood in Honolulu. The grand opening was on Saturday, April 13.

A rock climber at Volcanic Rock Gym, Honolulu, Hawaii

Volcanic Rock Gym is a rock climbing gym (bouldering specifically) where folks can come to get strong. Pictured above is Beau.


Justin, a former carpenter, built the rock climbing walls by hand with the help of several volunteers from the Hawaii rock climbing community. The place was built fast. Like, in under a month.

Here’s how it went down…


Back in late February, a space opened up in Kaka’ako that seemed like it could be used for a rock climbing gym. Justin was interested and started thinking about how he could turn it into a gym. He sent me a text with this photo. I texted back asking if this was some sort of rock climbing gym for ants.

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Then at the beginning of April, Justin signed the lease. Volcanic Rock Gym started as this long space that was formerly a weight-room for Powerhouse Gym. We went to check it out and congratulate him. The space was raw.

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From that point forward Justin went into a building frenzy. In less than a week the space was cleaned up and the walls were framed out.

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A few days after that, plywood was cut and installed. He was working like a mad man. Justin then announced that the new rock climbing gym in Honolulu was being built and invited anyone who was curious about it to come have a look.


Then came the painting process. Juri, a fellow Hawaii rock climber, was a huge help here. Painting this much wall space is not easy. One night I was here, we painted until 4 in the morning.


The cinder block walls got a new coat of paint as well and the place started to take on that new-gym feel. This photo was taken just a couple weeks after the lease was signed.


Justin is a big fan of Reuse Hawaii and built this desk with help from Nick and Juri.


This is where you’ll check-in and sign up.


A railing was built next with help from Johnny. The rail would section off the climbing area from the walkway.


Justin then built modules that would be mounted on the wall.


Sean, Evan and a few others helped screw in hundreds of t-nuts that are used to mount rock climbing holds to the plywood.


The back section of the gym also needed some attention. Justin installed lockers and built some rock climbing focused training equipment. He also had to build a door for the bathroom and install the toilet.


Lucky Olelo painted this piece.


This one’s by Jeff Gress.


One night I went over to help build a hangboard mount. I watched this dude (who I mostly know as a rock climber) measure, cut and construct a piece of work out equipment from scratch. You could tell he had done this sort of thing many times before when he used to build houses. It’s always interesting to see your friends’ hidden skills.


Once the construction and painting was complete there was still work to do. The floor was filled with shredded rubber, more furniture was built, and all he holds were set. All those long days of building and sleepless nights paid off and only a month after signing the lease, Justin was open for business.


There’s a lot of wall space here with plenty of overhung routes and roof climbing.


The back is now cleaned up and has been turned into strength training room. This is Nick on the campus board. It’s used to build finger strength and lock off strength.


Nick is doing assisted one arm pull ups on the rings.


You’ll also find these huge and heavy pieces of rebar that you can use to build your grip strength and shoulder muscles. You’ll probably want to get some tips from Justin on how to train with the rebar.


Rock climbing shoes and chalk are available to rent.


Drinks are available as well.


There’s a lounge space in the front where you can chat with other climbers or use the free Wi-Fi. If you come here during the daytime on a weekday you might see here on my laptop looking nerdy.


There are some fun routes set on the wall and more going up very soon.


Come check out Hawaii’s new rock climbing gym located conveniently in Honolulu. They open until 10pm.


Volcanic Rock Gym is located at 432 Keawe Street.

UPDATE (6/16/2015): Volcanic Rock Gym now has two locations on Oahu. Volcanic Rock Gym – Kailua, HI and Volcanic Climbing & Fitness – Honolulu, HI.

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This story was last modified on June 16, 2015. (Originally published in April 2013.)

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