In answer to the limited local climbing opportunities, SLO-OP (a loosely formed co-operative bouldering gym) was established in a Self Storage unit in 2002 by founding members Paul Hatalsky, Julie Workman, and Yishai Horowitz. Horowitz conceived of the idea after a trip to New Zealand where he saw something similar.

Despite the odds against it: small size – only 400 square feet and ten feet tall, the very overhanging, bouldering-specific homemade walls, financially broke even within its first month of operation, and no advertising budget, SLO-Op continued to grow and attract new climbers until the loss of its lease in July 2005.

Finally, in March 2006, Horowitz found a new location and galvanized the community into action, using volunteers to construct a steel-framed building using money on loan from interested climbers. The result? SLO-Op II. We filed as an LLC and a non-profit and became the country’s official first non-profit bouldering gym.

And then it got bigger and we got better. And now we’ve moved again, to a bouldering facility that boasts about 3500 square feet of sick bouldering with top outs, a crack machine, slackline, and hangboard. The idea has spawned a huge movement toward smaller co-op-type bouldering gyms all over the world and we couldn’t be more honored. We’re hoping to move to a larger facility in San Luis Obispo in a few years, and in the meantime, our second location is open in Santa Maria – a 10,000 square foot facility with expanded kids’ program and social outreach.