You may notice something missing from the gym these days. Or rather, someone.
If you have never met Claire Chappel, you’ve likely seen her, and you have definitely benefited from her contributions to BoulderHouse. Officially the Frontline Manager, Claire did a bit of everything: comps and events, social media, group bookings, admin, graphic design — those iconic shirts and posters! And she’s been with us from the start.
Claire’s mum set things in motion at the wedding of a family friend, Jean-Marc, co-owner at BoulderHouse. She casually mentioned Claire’s recent degree in Entrepreneurial Management and potential to help with the opening of the new gym. After coffee and a conversation, Jean-Marc brought Claire on to run the gym’s social media and then help with the opening party; from there, her involvement grew.
“They definitely took a bit of a gamble hiring me, since I had zero experience working in the climbing industry,” she says, “but I’m so grateful that they did. I definitely blame (thank) the community for making me as obsessed with bouldering as I am now. Don’t tell anyone, but I had actually never bouldered before BoulderHouse opened!”
We never would have guessed!
This fall, Claire is returning to school to complete prerequisites on a path she hopes will lead to working in physiotherapy. “I have always been very passionate about science and the human body. When I graduated high school, I started in Biological Science at U of C and was planning on going to med school, but decided to withdraw, take some time off, and ended up switching to business. I loved it, and regret nothing — after all it led me to BoulderHouse! But there is still a big part of me that is interested in sciencey things, and I need to explore those interests or I will always wonder.”
Many of BoulderHouse’s signature events came together thanks to Claire’s hard work, including the increasingly popular Summer Progression Sessions, which she started with Facilities Manager and Head Setter Spencer Lajeunesse. “Seeing that evolve has been so rewarding. I love seeing how psyched people get when they find out they climbed a tape colour that they hadn’t before. And just seeing the community come together is really awesome!”
Her biggest challenge was pulling off the SCBC/CEC competitions. She reveled in the insanity and chaos of the final week before comps and the thrill of seeing everything come together. Her very first comp was Tour de Bloc, a mere month after the gym opened. “I knew nothing about bouldering, and certainly didn’t know how to run a bouldering competition, but I somehow ended up being the go-to person for questions and feedback…somehow we pulled it off! It’s always a challenge making sure everything is organized so that the event will run as smooth as possible. Now we have run some really amazing competitions that have been very successful.”
Building relationships is a vital part of any business, especially one based around a sense of community. Claire’s sparkling personality and endless enthusiasm made her a natural at connecting with members and establishing many valued partnerships. Her favourite highlight was landing an event sponsorship with FATSO peanut butter.
While she may not be working here, Claire will still be around to climb. If you see her around the gym or at a crag, take a moment to thank her for making BH that much more special.
“I feel so lucky to be a part of the community at BoulderHouse. It’s been so awesome to watch BoulderHouse grow from day one to now. Everyone is SO supportive, encouraging, and inspiring. Every person who walks through the door contributes to making BoulderHouse the place that it is, and I just feel really grateful that I got to have a little part in it too.”
Claire, Claire, Claire, where to begin? When we first met you, you were super charged with enthusiasm and were looking at taking your role head on. While we were divided into a million directions getting the gym up and running, you were there to help where you could. While you weren’t a climber, your stoke to get involved with the community and see where it could go took off! As we watched climbing take hold of you, we knew that you were hooked. And this is the reason why we are all here today! It is the reason why we started the gym. It is so extraordinary for us to experience that change in a person when they realize the incredible world that has opened up to them. Your warm bubbliness has forever permeated our community, and we can’t wait to see you take on the world!