Welcome, we are Vertical Solutions

We specialize in climbing gym infrastructure and business modeling. Each gym we outfit is recognized for its quality and aesthetic, and all are notable for their custom design, features, and build. Our team of experts provides a comprehensive array of services to facility owners, including business consulting services and, ultimately, a stunning, world-class facility. Given our passion and expertise, you’re guaranteed a space that evokes emotionfosters powerful relationships, and nourishes climbing culture.


Our home base of Salt Lake City is one of the world’s premiere climbing epicenters.  

Here, we are immersed not only in climbing culture, both indoors and out, but in what is considered one of the strongest business centers nationwide. Salt Lake is a daily source of inspiration– the Wasatch Mountains and Utah’s deserts fuel our imaginations and galvanize our designs. 

We’re proud to call this city home. 

Get to Know Us
  • We started in Salt Lake City in 2007 as one expert craftsman with a passion for climbing and one novice entrepreneur with a passion for creating memorable experiences. Without an existing company to help us realize our vision for the future of indoor climbing, we picked up the tools to do it ourselves.

    Using The Front Climbing Club as our sandbox, we achieved our vision and gained the resources, expertise, and drive to help others achieve the same. Investing in aesthetics, our designs and materials are a departure from the previously accepted “norm”, consistently resulting in unifying authentic communities and expanding the reach and appeal of indoor climbing well beyond the winter-season-trainer.

    Word has caught on quickly, and our work across the country has elevated the wall building industry world-wide and challenged our competitors and peers to innovate to keep up.

    We plan to maintain the lead.

  • Building, opening, and operating a climbing gym is no small feat, and progress is founded in grit, determination, and business acumen. Having outfitted over a hundred facilities across the country, we have the experience to accelerate your progress by delivering a reliable, comprehensive formula for success, catered specifically to your vision.

    We have a full-fleet of resources to take you from the moment you think, “This town needs a great climbing gym” to the cutting of the ribbon on opening day. Our offerings include a business consultation package to work through market research, cost-benefit analyses, the pros and cons of buying vs leasing a space, a buildout vs ground up facility, and the multi-faceted financing process.

    Once you’re ready to build, Vertical Solutions will supply walls, flooring, holds, training boards, and furniture. Additionally, you’ll be set up with all the needed hardware and staff training via our partnership with Petzl America, as well as workout equipment selection assistance and pricing via our partnership with Freemotion Fitness.

    We are the true definition of a one-stop shop.

Our Team

Dustin Buckthal

  • Successful Entrepreneur
  • Private Investment Expert
  • Business Operations

Dustin moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Utah after graduating with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and biochemistry from Southern Oregon University. Yes, that means exactly what you think it means - he arrived in Utah rocking dreadlocks. Luckily, hair loss is a common side effect of entrepreneurialism. 

He entered the climbing industry by purchasing the local climbing gym in 2006 after telling the then-owner it could be operated better and finding the keys on the table in front of him immediately thereafter.  

Dustin tapped into his innate business sense to make continuous improvements on the facility and customer experience until he grew its original membership base of 45 large enough to open three additional projects: a historic-site buildout in downtown Ogden (2009), a 40,000 sqft ground-up expansion on the original SLC location (2015), and a 45,000 sq. ft. award-winning ground-up facility in Millcreek, Utah (2020).  

John Stack

  • Ex. Pro-Climber
  • Steel and Wood Expert
  • Manufacturing

As a pro-climber on the PCA circuit, John competed around the country for 10 years (1992-2002) and gained an intimate and personal understanding of the climbing culture and industry. John identified unique and specific weaknesses in the indoor aspect of the sport and subsequently set his creativity loose with sights on improving the environments and spaces in which climbers spend their time.  

His ‘side jobs’ had already turned him into a master carpenter and expert metal fabricator, but his consistent refinement of impeccable woodworking detail and jaw-dropping innovations created the foundation for Vertical Solution’s reputation of aesthetically beautiful and incredibly durable climbing wall construction. 

John’s ability to breach the limits of what was once “impossible” truly defines the culture and state of business at Vertical Solutions.   

The success of Vertical Solutions and our clients is driven by a phenomenal team of professionals. Their passion and creativity provide the company with a set of collective capabilities unrivaled in the industry.  

With Vertical Solutions as a partner, you are developing long-term, reliable relationships and a successful business. No matter the size of your project, you are treated as a member of our team.

  • Jaime Garza

    • Design Manager
    • University of Utah
    • Works with climbing wall clients to bring their vision to reality through 3D modeling.
    • Has designed over 40 climbing gyms/projects.
    • Personally passionate about all types of climbing and outdoor exploration.
    • Works at Vertical Solutions because here he is able to fulfill his passions for creating authentic architecture with clean lines and heavy social interaction, for a community he is proud to be a part of.
  • Derek Foote

    • Production, Manufacturing & Shop Manager
    • Climbing industry professional with 10 years experience
    • Works closely with design team for smooth project builds and to navigate unforeseen construction hurdles.
    • Has excelled at a variety of roles from route setting and gym management, to wall building and client management.
    • An enthusiastic climber, fly fisher and general outdoor enthusiast.
    • Met his wonderful wife while building Ground Up Climbing Center in Squamish.
    • Works for Vertical Solutions because he finds inspiration in leading the construction process and contributing to beautiful and functional products for people just like himself.
  • Kelly Carter

    • Director of Employee Development
    • Grew up skiing in Park City and camping in the Wasatch Mountains.
    • If she’s not at The Front climbing or working, you can find her backpacking, snapping night sky photos, practicing yoga, or loving on her animals (a dog, two cats, four turtles)!
    • Works for VS because she is extremely passionate about creating, cultivating, and developing company cultures… and having the opportunity to work in the climbing world was WAY too good to pass up.
    • Did we mention she loves climbing?
  • Andrew Knuth

    • Designer
    • University of Kansas
    • Works with clients on project details, and intricate customization of designs.
    • An Iowa native, but has been drawn to exploring the mountains for over 15 years.
    • Backcountry skiing and rock climbing has been his jam for over 10 years.
    • Works for Vertical Solutions because he excels at tackling interesting design projects from start to finish, and considers this the perfect mixture of business and pleasure every single day.
  • Aaron Raby

    • Designer
    • Bio coming soon!
  • Reed Debus

    • Designer
    • Bio coming soon!
  • Cassidy Wasko

    • Graphic Designer
    • Chicago native and University of Michigan grad (Go Blue!)
    • Five years of graphic design experience at local Utah institutions with a background in the outdoor industry from years at boutique gear shops.
    • Lifelong skier and outdoorswoman. Began climbing in college.
    • Works for Vertical Solutions to combine her love of design and the outdoors. She values working as an in-house designer because it facilitates a real connection to her art and tangibly supports her community.


  • Lance Pinn
    Brooklyn Boulders

    From the inception of Brooklyn Boulders we have always thought bigger than our competitors. Our business model differs from the standard climbing gym offering, and we needed to partner with a team that understood our large, ambitious vision, and could adapt to the challenges presented by working in the most densely populated urban environments out there. We operate multiple gyms in top-10 DMAs, where it’s easy to become background noise, lose the public’s  attention, and generally grow stale. So it was critical that we leveraged our wall builder to always design and deliver something unique to our brand, because our customers expect high-end experiences and environments. Vertical Solutions is the only company that had the meticulous attention to detail, and unwavering dedication to craftsmanship to pull it off, in every city.

  • Lauren Watson
    Ground Up Climbing

    When setting out to build a rock climbing gym, it's important to have an experienced team in your corner. As gym owners and Climbers themselves, VS matched our passion for the project, showed patience and shared expertise and professional opinion throughout both the design and build phase. They understood our values and drive to build a gym that would last through the ages and showed integrity from beginning to end. The whole process felt less like a business transaction and more like a collaboration and their help didn't stop at walls. Their team never hesitated to share their experience in community building, management systems and other integral components to building a successful business. They were professional, on time and very easy to work with. We would recommend them for any project you want to pour your soul into, they will take very good care of it.

  • Michael Cesari
    Steep Rock Bouldering

    The team at Vertical Solutions was integral to our success as a climbing gym. As an owner of multiple businesses, I was confident in our plan and strategy, but I absolutely needed a rock climbing gym designer and builder to execute on time and on budget. Setbacks in our market are extremely hard to recover from. From day one, the VS team was on the same page with me and was incredibly easy to work with. They adapted to everything that they were challenged with and the result was outstanding! Our customers are psyched to be climbing on such beautiful walls, and we have unique hardwood features that really set us apart in their minds. With the success of this gym, we are considering another and if we pull the trigger, we will be going with Vertical Solutions again.

  • Jason Mullins
    The Bloc

    We already owned a rope climbing facility in our city when we decided to pursue a new bouldering gym for our community. We wanted to keep the culture and vibe similar between the two locations, while also giving our customers something completely new they have never seen before; something they could get stoked on. So we took a look around at who was really standing out from the crowd, and Vertical Solutions' body of work really impressed us. They built our bouldering facility and consulted with us on a number of different things in order to keep our customers interested and safe. It could not have worked out any better. I would recommend using them without hesitation based on my experience. 


Contact us to receive the following documents and take your next steps to success:

VS Company Brochure       CWA Summit Financing Presentation       Focus Article: Anatomy of Bouldering Floor
White Paper Preview: How to Start a Climbing GymSample Gym Financial SheetsHabit Company Brochure
Case Study: Brooklyn Boulders Renovations       Business Development Process Outline       Proxy One-Page