Couple aims to foster community through climbing

TRENTON —For husband-and-wife team Ann Grinnell and Jesse Cameron of Mount Desert, breaking ground in August on Volta, the indoor climbing gym they plan to build in Trenton, is a dream years in the making.

The co-owners and co-developers have big plans for the space. Building Volta means more than creating a space for climbers of all ages and abilities, it is about fostering a welcoming community.

“The concept of inclusion” is at Volta’s core, Grinnell said.

It is intended to be a place where you can “learn a new skill and also be together,” Cameron added, noting that Volta was partially inspired by his days in college when “I worked at a climbing gym…and it changed my life.”

Embarking on the project together is “a real alchemy between our different skill sets,” Grinnell said. She is a life coach with an office at the Counseling Collaborative in Town Hill and is responsible for Volta’s marketing, branding and communications. Cameron was born and raised in Bar Harbor and operates his own construction company, Cameron Stone and Landscape. He is the general contractor behind Volta, calling the chance to design the project “a carpenter’s dream.” An experienced and active climber himself, he is committed to providing a supportive and safe space for all levels of climbers, adding, “As long as you’re just showing up, it doesn’t matter where you are in your ability.”

Plans for the 9,750-square-foot space on the 2.7-acre lot include areas for rope climbing and bouldering, general fitness offerings, a yoga studio, a gear shop, local beer taps and premade snacks. The climbing walls will be built by the company Entre-Prises.

“It will be a fun place to be,” Cameron said.

Grinnell added that they are working to “support a space for the community.”

Climbers will be able to climb on their own or take classes, with instruction available for all levels. Cameron and Grinnell hope to establish competitive climbing teams for children and adults and have the gym be a place for companies to engage in teambuilding exercises. They also intend to rent the space out to industries that can use the gym to provide job trainings, such as search and rescue crews and arborist operations.

The duo is conscious of the gym’s environmental impact and is working to “do this as sustainably as possible,” Grinnell said. Plans includes using solar power and providing water bottle refill stations.

Additionally, the gym’s parking lot will be made “with a product called Truegrid, which is 100 percent recycled plastic,” according to a post on Volta’s Facebook page. “It is permeable and requires very little maintenance,” the post reads.

Besides environmental concerns, Cameron and Grinnell also are discussing implementing COVID-19 safety infrastructure such as medical-grade air purifiers.

Cameron and Grinnell said the area has a “rich climbing community” and the couple appreciate the support they have received in making Volta a reality, including input from a local group of veteran climbers. Construction help is being provided by A. Law Construction and Erika Flynn of Good Majick is assisting with Volta’s branding, website maintenance and social media presence.

Grinnell and Cameron may be the owners and founders of Volta, but the duo is adamant that the gym is meant to be a shared experience. While it is a meaningful endeavor for the pair, Grinnell notes that the project “is not just our baby.” It is a project that they are “ushering into existence [through] a very collaborative process.”

Volta is scheduled to open next August or September.

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Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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