Walking into the new Rock Solid climbing facility, you’ll experience breathtaking views of climbing walls that go upside down, slant, twist and go up to the ceiling. Rock Solid, at 3949 W. Costco Drive, opened in September of 2020, but defying all odds, it successfully opened even with a global pandemic. Rock Solid was founded by Cory Hanson, Lindsey Taylor and Carlton Taylor.

Recently I was honored to sit down with Hanson and talk about all things climbing. As soon as you walk in, your attention immediately shifts to climbers completing incredible climbs. For me, it was humorously difficult to not stare in awe at the climbers and focus on the interview.

“I got put in touch with Carlton and Lindsey Taylor through a friend of mine who works in architecture,” says Hanson. They were all looking for potential partners interested in opening a climbing facility. Even before the founders met, work was being done to assure Rock Solid would be great. “Carlton was working on things six months before we met,” Hanson says. “Then it took about a year from us meeting and deciding to work together to actual construction starting.”

So much effort was put into making Rock Solid perfect— what drove Hanson to go for it? “Rock climbing, like a lot of other sports, teaches you about persistence, failure, and working towards a goal,” he says. He says he learned aspects of how to succeed in life through his experiences in rock climbing. He shared that “climbing and being physically active is just extremely important to being a well-rounded individual and having a fulfilling life." He wants other to know that it can be challenging to fight your body’s desire to move. “It wants the adrenaline, it wants the hormones that are released from overcoming physical challenges,” he explains. “At this point in my life, I don’t climb to perform my best as much as I used to—a lot of what I do is climbing for fun and climbing to make sure my body and mind are satisfied with the activity I do all day.”

His partners inspire Hanson, he says, and the rock climbing industry as a whole “is really full of people that have made climbing what it is today…people like Jeff Pedersen, and those at Mesa Rim.”

Rock Solid raises the bar, especially with its unique “Circuit Setting System,” a way to rank climbing routes that doesn’t tell people that they don’t belong. Hanson says people are easily intimidated by a higher number or level on a strict grading scale. “They’ll do really silly things like see a number, think that the climb looks fun, but if the number is a little bit bigger than the number they are used to getting on then they won’t get on it,” he says. The Circuit Setting System acknowledges that everyone is different. “When you blur the lines more and more, people are more interested and try more. That’s what we try to do,” says Hanson.

Is there anything that beginners do that makes Hanson climb up the walls? “It’s a difficult question to answer because if you are a beginner, then by definition you don’t know all the answers,” he says. “So I don’t hold it against anyone who comes in with a fresh head without any experience…but I will say something that should not ever happen is when people wear their climbing shoes in the bathroom.”

Rock Solid can accommodate everyone from the expert to the beginner. I believe that Rock Solid is a major win for the Tucson rock climbing community because there truly is nothing else like it.

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