The dream of your own bouldering hall. What began in the summer of 2020 with a simple SMS has become reality a year and a half later: Bouba - short for Boulderhalle Baden - is about to open (November 20.11.2021, XNUMX). We spoke to the two founders Kevin Huser and Dimitri Canonica about visions, the climbing community and holey sewer pipes.

A contribution by Fabian Reichle - Bächli Bergsport

You are opening a bouldering hall in Baden on November 20.11.2021, XNUMX. How did that happen?

Kevin: That was actually very simple. Since there is still nothing in Baden in the direction of climbing, the idea of ​​having my own bouldering hall occurred to me. I was training with Dimitri, who I know from route building in the Gaswerk climbing center in Schlieren, in the private bouldering room - so I asked him about the idea. On the same day a message came back from him: "Are we going to do this now?"

Do you remember how the idea turned into a real project?

Kevin: We started looking for a building from the start. We had ambitious intentions, but we didn't want to force anything. Dimitri finally found out about an empty hall on the former Ferro area. From that point on we gave full throttle - business plan, landlord contact, financing and much more took shape. At the end of last year, when we were able to get the bank and a first major investor on board, things got really serious. From one day to the next, the project was no longer fictional.

The bouldering hall in pictures

Its own bouldering hall. That sounds quite romantic, especially when you are passionate about climbing yourself. Now, however, you are a company owner, you have to take care of things that are far away from bouldering. Did that change your perspective on the project?

Kevin: Only to a limited extent. We were already employed in a climbing hall before, so we sometimes came into contact with the business aspects of the company, which certainly had its advantages. I also worked for a year and a half in a bank in various front-office departments as well as in marketing and communication. That gave me a certain sober insight into the financing area.

Dimitri: It's similar for me. I am a trained cabinet maker with experience in planning and implementing exhibitions. This background helped us to realistically approach the conceptual and structural steps of the project right from the start. Kevin and I complement each other ideally with our expertise and tasks.

The portable fingerboard from Kästners & Söhne to take with you on the wall stand.
The portable fingerboard from Kästners & Söhne to take with you on the wall stand.

Still, such a construction project is surely not always easy?

Dimitri: Of course. After every good news comes bad news. But we always see this as a challenge. They are simply problems that we have to solve.

Kevin: Exactly, our job is to advance good ideas and master challenges. You can't let anything get you down. Sometimes we're down, but after a night's sleep, the energy comes back. But there are also days when everything works out completely unexpectedly. That motivates. There are bigger and smaller hurdles, but somehow we always made it. We also have a great environment with friends, colleagues and family who support us again and again. 

Can you give us a specific challenge from your everyday life?

Dimitri: There was the sewer system, for example. At first it was said that everything was in order, but then suddenly the objection arose that the pipes had to be examined for holes. Such were discovered promptly, which meant for us that remedial work would have to be carried out.

Kevin: We finally found out, however, that the work is the responsibility of the landlord. That put things into perspective again. At least from a financial point of view.

What is the current status on your construction site?

Dimitri: The imminent opening will become a reality (November 20.11.2021, XNUMX), but there is still a lot to be done. For example, I will still build the reception counter and there is still a lot to do in the bistro.

Kevin: A lot of small things like electrical installations are still open. And IT is also required. All our systems such as the cash register, subscription management and so on should work properly when we open. However, the walls are ready, the mats are now being laid.

You have chosen an old industrial hall as the location. How do you use this?

Dimitri: We absolutely wanted the hall to retain its effect in terms of its architecture and aesthetics. The building has a powerful look with unique curves and light-emitting roof windows. The whole room has to be able to breathe, which is why we paid attention to a lot of space during the expansion. Everything is built in such a way - from the bouldering blocks to the light suspension - that the hall is still perceived as it was originally. 

Kevin: Exactly. This is also reflected in the relationship between the space on the mat and the bouldering areas. We have a huge area, we wanted to use that. We could have put in a lot more climbing walls, but then it would quickly become too tight for our visitors, and you would no longer feel comfortable. Thanks to our concept, guests can stay on a block or sector for an entire training session without being permanently in the way of others.

Dimitri: Nevertheless, of course we made full use of the space. However, this is especially true at heights. Galleries that are accessible and connected by bridges have been set up on our blocks.

Shoe for indoor climbing

Solution Comp by La Sportiva (men's model)
Solution Comp by La Sportiva (women's model)

You address the bouldering area and the blocks. What can boulderers expect in this regard?

Kevin: Our approach was to keep the walls simple. Due to the trend towards ever larger handles and volumes, from our point of view it makes no sense to predefine too many structures. We therefore primarily work with different angles of inclination of the walls. There will be routes of all levels of difficulty. We have also built areas for different, individual requirements. So we created a training wall that appeals to athletes and professionals. There is also a course wall. This can be blocked off for participants. Most of the time, however, has already been mixed so that the guests can exchange ideas.

Dimitri: We also built a strength area and a calisthenics park. Some of these are located in the galleries - where, by the way, you can also boulder. So you can easily spend a whole session here.

For all structural aspects: What is your vision for the bouba?

Kevin: We want to build the largest sports community in Baden. Bouldering is the core, but we also want to promote other points of contact - for example through other urban sports such as yoga. But we can also imagine completely different offers. We have a huge outdoor area where we could implement ideas for a food festival.

Dimitri: Regardless of whether you are a beginner or a professional, the togetherness with completely strangers is very pronounced in bouldering. I remember when I started doing the sport, I saw Kevin, who had been active for years and in the national team, climbing super hard routes with a weight vest on. It was then that I realized what is possible in climbing. When beginners can watch athletes, that motivates them. That is why the aforementioned togetherness and mixing are so important. We want to convey this feeling in the Bouba.

Do you already have plans for the additional offers mentioned?

Kevin: First the bouldering business should establish itself, it is our core business. If we notice that the demand is there, then of course we put everything in to establish or expand a desired offer.

The most important thing at the end: When is the grand opening?

Dimitri: On Saturday, November 20, 2021.


You can find more information about the bouldering hall in Baden at www.boulder-baden.ch.

About the operator of the Bouba bouldering hall

Kevin Huser
The Widener has been climbing for 17 years - previously even for the national team in sport climbing. The sport does not let go of him professionally either: for several years he worked as a route planner.

Dimitri Canonica
The trained carpenter from Dietikon has been climbing for 5 years. He harmonizes his professional career with his work as a route planner.

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