Our vision is to spread the wealth of the climbing experience. Climbing offers an incredible return on your physical and mental investment. Among its rich attributes, none are greater than its ability to profoundly connect you with other climbers, your environment and yourself. At its simplest, climbing is pure fun, exciting and intrinsic to us all. We are all, natural born climbers.
“Climbing-Connecting-Community” is our mission statement. Powerful words individually, but combined, define what we are all about. We aim to change lives, for good.
Whether you’re an elite El Cap climber, a first timer or someone in between, we guarantee your climbing experience with us will bring you back time and again. We hope you’ll sharpen your skills at Whetstone.
By Founder/Owner Darrell Gschwendtner
My heart has been in the climbing “business” for nearly 25 years and with the opening of Whetstone, it has now come full circle. For me, climbing has been and is, spiritual and life-changing. So too for the many others I’ve met on remote cliffs on other continents. Many of us need something that represents a way, a passage through life, a discipline or philosophy to follow. I believe the mental and physical rigors of climbing offer a template for wellness and inner peace.
My climbing teeth were cut in Boulder, CO during the mid-90’s as a CU student. Climbing came at a turning point in my life and anchored me in the midst of a personal storm. The pull towards climbing was so strong that it overrode my love for skiing at the time which included being part of the CU Alpine ski team. There were times where I’d finish our ski team training at Eldora by late morning, drive down Boulder Canyon to attend normal afternoon classes at CU, and instead, I’d find myself right back up the canyon trying to hone my newfound climbing skills.
Once bitten, it was fast, furious and all consuming. Trial, error and the timeless pages of ‘Mountaineering – Freedom of the Hills’ were my teachers. Route guidebooks and the history of the sport were equally as fascinating. I spent many a night reading and practicing knots before falling asleep. I begged, borrowed and essentially stole (recruited) climbing partners when needed. My rack consisted largely of used gear from the Boulder Sports Recycler, found crag schwag and the occasional new weapon via holiday or birthday gift: a harness, shoes or rope. My traditional climbing skills were evolving, leading me into aid climbing as bigger objectives quickly popped on my radar. Aid climbing started rocky for me having a brush with death (small refrigerator-sized block dislodged/pinned me to the ground) and a homemade port-a-ledge “product testing” fiasco (picture middle of the night equipment failure “taco” surprise). Thankful for my short-term memory, I continued to pursue and progress despite occasional setbacks/injures. After a few years, I had success locally in places like Eldo, the South Platte and on the Diamond as well as elsewhere throughout the states with numerous multi-day big wall ascents on El Cap, Half Dome and Zion. My attention then focused on a long-term dream of climbing in Patagonia which came to fruition immediately after graduating from CU in the late 90’s. It was an epic trip indeed from incredible failures and legendary storms to triumph and tragedy. After more global climbing excursions, my climbing focus shifted to and continues to be on, the disciplines of sport climbing and bouldering.
I’m now blessed to have a magnificent wife and two children who keep us busy and make us proud. Thankfully, they all enjoy climbing as well and our adventures have already been many and magical. Whetstone will certainly be an epic adventure, for which I’m fully roped up. The journey has begun, and I can’t wait to connect with all of you. I welcome all comments, suggestions, questions and concerns. After all, Whetstone is for you.
Living in Colorado for over 40 years has been a tremendous good fortune and to open doors on a world class climbing facility in Ft. Collins, CO where there is such a strong adventure and climbing culture, well it’s a dream come true.
So, let’s call Whetstone’s connecting space, a gift to the community, as I cannot think of a better way to pay it forward. I look forward to climbing with you!
Grateful for the opportunity,