New climbing gym ‘The Notch’ set to open in the Upper Valley

The gym will open in late 2022, according to co-founders Josh Garrison and Noah Lynd.

by Thomas White | 10/28/21 5:00am


The reopening of the climbing gym on campus has been delayed to next term due to logistical issues. 

by Madison Cook / The Dartmouth

As the Dartmouth climbing gym delays reopening to next term, local Upper Valley climbing friends Josh Garrison and Noah Lynd look to open a new climbing gym — “The Notch” — in the Upper Valley in late 2022. 

The Dartmouth Climbing Team announced in an email on the climbing team listserv last Tuesday that the climbing gym will be reopening this week, allowing the climbing team to host practices in adherence with COVID-19 safety protocols and a limited eight-person gym capacity. 

However, the reopening of the climbing gym has been delayed until next term due to “an unexpected logistical problem” with the cleaning of the gym, DCT leader Connor Bragg ’22 wrote in an emailed statement. He noted that he could not provide further detail, as the gym reopening is a “complicated and not wholly student-run endeavor.” 

As students await the reopening of Dartmouth’s climbing gym, however, the Notch will aim to provide the Upper Valley with a state-of-the-art climbing gym and community space by next year. 

Garrison and Lynd said the space will include walls for different styles of climbing, training equipment, a yoga studio, cardio machines, free weights and an event space. They added that they have incorporated community feedback from the Upper Valley into every aspect of the project, ensuring that it fits the needs of the area.

“We want to build the thing that will work best for the people that will use it,” Lynd said.

Garrison and Lynd said they met six years ago when they were both teaching in Hartford, Connecticut. Though they both had extensive outdoor experience, Garrison said he had never climbed before, so Lynd — who had 20 years of climbing experience — took him to a gym near their school on New Year’s Day. The two soon began a climbing partnership, they explained. 

The pair said they have been living in the Upper Valley for the past few years. Garrison said that while they have enjoyed climbing outdoors in the surrounding area, they realized that there were no suitable climbing gyms within an hour drive. 

Garrison added that the Upper Valley is a “dead zone” for climbing gyms, noting that the DCT drives to the climbing gym in Concord, an hour away, at least once per week. 

Garrison said they began to discuss the idea of founding their own gym “two to three years ago,” posting on a climbing forum to gauge community interest. 

“I am curious of any other feedback and/or opinions of features of a gym people would like to see,” Garrison wrote in a Mountain Project post. “Also, what would be your ideal location? Hanover, White River, Woodstock, etc.?”

The post began a two-year-long conversation between the community and the pair in which they worked out the details of the proposed gym, Lynd said. The forum interactions eventually sparked a mailing list with over 100 people, and many more online connections. Lynd said that due to COVID-19, they are just now starting to “make connections in person.”

“That’s been super fun and quite rewarding,” Lynd said. “We had a little get-together and were able to put faces with names. We look forward to doing more of that in the future.”

According to Garrison, the gym has a unique purpose: “[to unite] the climbing tribe.”

“[I want the gym] to challenge people who want to climb at a very elite level, welcome people who are new to climbing and to be a space where people feel comfortable being good at climbing, being not good at climbing and everywhere in between,” Lynd said. “I want it to be a space that welcomes families and children, that creates new climbers and provides exposure to those who haven’t had the opportunity to try it out.”

Lynd said that even non-climbers in the Upper Valley feel that the area needs more indoor recreational opportunities, adding that the two are excited to provide options outside of “a swimming pool or hockey rink, which there seems to be a lot of.” 

Still North Books & Bar owner Allie Levy ’11, who started climbing in New York City after she graduated from Dartmouth — then moved to Colorado for several years to work at the American Alpine Club and climbing gyms there — said she thinks that the gym will be “a really fantastic addition for the community.” 

“I’m really excited for the opportunity, not just for a different form of movement, but for the chance for the climbing community in the area to have a home base, to be more centralized and to have an easy way of connecting.” 

At the moment, “all the pieces are falling together,” Garrison said, and they are slated to begin architectural designs in the near future. Barring any significant delays, Lund said that they are hoping to break ground in the spring of 2022 and open by the holiday season.