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Humble Beginnings

Coastal Climbing was established in 2011 by owners Kensie Whitfield and his wife Jeanna. Kensie is a Charleston native and has been a part of the Charleston climbing community for the last 20+ years.   

Kensie has been climbing since 2000 and has climbed multiple v12s and 5.14bs. In the early days, climbing was a fringe sport and climbing gyms were few and far between. In middle school, in order to satisfy his desire to climb, Kensie built his first home wall and climbed buildings around Charleston. In high school he managed climbing walls in the area, explored many untapped climbing spots in the region, and ranked nationally as a youth competitor.  Kensie worked as a climbing guide through college at Rock Dimensions in Boone, NC. In college Kensie met Jeanna who was attending College of Charleston through mutual friends. They quickly fell in love and explored climbing areas throughout the country while pursuing a college degree.

After achieving their undergraduate degrees, the country was in a deep recession.  As difficult as it was at the time, they were able to find jobs in Charleston and decided to build their life together in the Lowcountry. In 2009, they helped create the first semipublic indoor bouldering space in Charleston. This spot was under a month-to-month lease was affectionately dubbed, The Ballroom. This humble, smelly, non airconditioned space was an incubator for the strongest climbers in the area and allowed the community to grow. It was a vibrant community of artists, students and young professionals that finally had a space that could act as an appropriate training ground.

Kensie and Jeanna realized that they had an opportunity to bring the Charleston bouldering community into the light. They quit their jobs and decided to commit 100% into opening the areas first indoor climbing gym. After years of community building and careful planning and they decided to open Coastal Climbing at 708 King with minimal resources, a can-do attitude and their knowledge of the climbing industry. This was just in the nick of time as the landlord evicted the tenants of the Ballroom to redevelop the property. It was around this time when they adopted Shadow a 2-year-old Alaskan Malamute that would be turn out to be the gyms unofficial mascot. 

At the time, Coastal Climbing was the first Bouldering only climbing gym in the Southeast region. The gamble was hard fought as indoor climbing at the time was a hard sell for the residents of Charleston. The couple persevered and slowly but surely built the community and the space to its current form that you see today.

Kensie and Jeanna’s goal has always been to create a space where individuals with a passion for climbing can coalesce, regardless of background or ability.  Over the years Kensie and Jeanna have been able to provide a high-level professional product for their community through the art of route setting and an attention to detail. Coastal Climbing is a space that is approachable, affordable, clean and current with industry trends. The owners never stop reinvesting and innovating in the community that they cherish and are grateful for the roles that they have achieved.

kensie and jeanna whitfield 1
kensie building a gym
kensie and jeanna whitfield 2
Jeanna routesetting
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