Ann Grinnell and Jesse Cameron stand in the doorway of their business, Volta Climbing Gym, on Thursday, August 19, 2021. They hope to complete construction of the Trenton climbing facility this fall and to open by the end of the year. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

A couple from Mount Desert Island is hoping to finish construction of Maine’s third dedicated indoor climbing facility and open by the start of December.

Workers have been building Volta Climbing Gym on Route 3 in Trenton since last fall. The roof has been completed, and spray foam insulation will be applied to the inside building envelope this week. After that, a team from climbing panel manufacturer Entre-Prises will spend several weeks installing climbing panels.

Jesse Cameron and Ann Grinnell said they hope the gym — which will include weights, exercise equipment, and retail space in addition to 8,000 square feet of vertical climbing surface — will be open and ready for use by Dec. 1.

Cameron and Grinnell said they want to draw customers from MDI but also from the greater region, including the Bangor area. The only other dedicated climbing gyms in Maine are Evo Rock + Fitness in Portland and Salt Pump Climbing Co. in Scarborough, they said.

Experienced climbers already are attracted to the area, largely in the summer, because of Acadia National Park and other climbing spots in eastern Maine, but Cameron and Grinnell said they hope to attract a wide variety of clientele. The gym will have rental climbing gear available for people who don’t have their own.

“People crave alternative activities,” especially in winter, Grinnell said. “It is filling a need in eastern Maine.”

They will offer instruction, along with packages for area schools, training for search and rescue groups, and retreats for companies looking to hold team-building exercises for their employees. Climbers of all skill levels will be welcome, including those with disabilities, they said.

“There will be a lot of new climbers here,” Cameron said. “Safety will be big, too. Safety will be the biggest thing here”

The building, which has just less than 10,000 square feet of floor space, will have 4,500 square feet of walls for rope climbing up to 40 feet high, and 3,500 square feet of wall space for bouldering, which involves climbing close enough to the ground that ropes are not needed. The panels being installed will have interchangeable climbing elements, or holds, so that climbing routes can be changed from one visit to the next.

Part of the vision for Volta — a random word the couple chose while they were searching online for what to call their gym — is to create a space where people of all abilities can set and strive for their own health goals, Grinnell said. They want Volta to be accessible and inclusive, and also sustainable. They are trying to source and obtain materials and supplies that are made sustainably, she said, and have plans to install a 30-kilowatt solar array on the building’s low-sloping roof.

“It’s going to be a cool space,” Grinnell said. “The accessibility and sustainability components are huge for us.”


Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....