The Spire climbing gym is expanding and in a big way. If you happen to drive by the climbing gym these days, you will notice a the original building has been cast into a shadow by the goliath addition currently under construction.

"It's a lot of climbing playground," said Leigh Spokas, who is head of instruction at the Spire. "We are tripling our climbing surface."

Currently, the Spire has about 8,000 square feet of climbing surface. The new addition will add an additional 10,000 square feet. According to Leigh, however, the Spire needs the expansion for members and (more importantly) the youth programs.

"There is a huge wait list. It takes kids sometimes a year or more to get into our programs," she said. "Right now, we see about 150 kids a week, and we are going to more than double that."

The Spire has become a place for Gallatin Valley kids to meet friends, receive climbing instruction and mentorship at the same time. "We push [the kids] a little bit, but we want them to have a good time too while making lifelong athletes," Leigh said.

The problem is available space. "In the evening there can be up to 60 people in here trying to climb at once...Nobody is really psyched to climb with 20 5-year-olds, but [the members] have put up with it admirably," she said.

The new expansion will allow the climbers some elbow room, and with a new high point of 50 feet, climbers will get a whole lot of new head room as well. That's just what Bozeman climbers need, according to Leigh.

"That was the coolest thing when I moved here. I was like, 'Oh my gosh! Everyone here is a badass!' They are very humble about it, but they all get after it," she said.

With the opening of the Spire, climbing interests have exploded in Bozeman. With the opening of the expansion in April, Bozeman climbers will have an opportunity to take new clinics that will increase overall safety and fun while climbing outside.

"[The Spire] has grown to hundreds and hundreds of members; it's driven that interest in climbing and trail building: just that overall awareness of taking care of the outside as well," Leigh said.

If you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran, the new and improved Spire is a great place to climb. Besides, Leigh said, "it's way cheaper than a ski pass, and you can go all year."