On 1 May of this year they were given the key, and on 7 October Bob Giesberts and his three partners drank a toast to the opening of Radium Boulders. In the interval, the young entrepreneurs transformed the first floor of the Radium Building from a dusty, dirty factory space to a modern climbing hall of almost 1700 square metres, with changing rooms, showers, and ample catering facilities.
Bouldering – climbing up against a wall that is a maximum of 4.5 metres high – is quickly gaining popularity. The sport is appropriate for all ages, you need nothing more than a pair of sports shoes and you are ready to go. Climbing harnesses are unnecessary; if you fall, thick bouldering mats are there to break your fall safely.
Following the success of two earlier boulder halls, Bob and his partners began the search for a new space, preferably in a university town. This led them to Maastricht. Bob: ‘From the beginning, our contact with the municipality was good and they cooperated fully. When they showed us this building in the Fronten Quarter, we became enthusiastic immediately. Climbing halls are often in warehouses, because they require a lot of space. But here, there are enormous windows all the way up to the ceiling. This really changes the experience: we built the boulders in the middle of the space. Unlike in other halls, you can walk around them.’
The entrepreneurs took on all renovations themselves, with a large number of volunteers. ‘First, we had to clear out the building. From old pipes from the Radium factory to dead pigeons, we saw it all. After that, we began building in two teams. One team tackled the climbing area, the other team worked on the bar, the kitchen, and the changing rooms.’ The owner is proud of the result. As the person responsible for the hall in Maastricht, he wants to further grow the business internally. ‘My partners work from Amsterdam, I am based here permanently. We have noticed that there is a great deal of interest in bouldering; our children's parties on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons are very popular. There were already lots of climbers in Maastricht, mainly among the student population, who quickly found their way to our door. But we're also seeing many new people. Starting in November, we will be offering training for young people, and we want to start getting climbers ready for participation in national competitions.’
In the meantime, Bob is also working on his doctoral research, which focusses on a new treatment for clubfoot. However, the doctor of industrial design does not see his future as a scientist, but as an entrepreneur. ‘Here in Maastricht, a great deal is happening and many things seem possible. The municipality is open to new initiatives and is investing heavily in the city centre. And the entrepreneurs are in touch with one another. The timing for coming to Maastricht was exactly right.’