Don't look down.
That's the one constant piece of advice given anytime one makes a high climb.
Henry Pott is making a big climb himself, and he's sure not looking down. He's actually looking up at the boulders and rock walls inside the MetroRock Climbing Center at Littleton's The Point shopping center on Constitution Avenue, at the juncture of Interstate 495 and Route 2A.
As the center's general manager, he's also looking forward to the anticipated April opening of the facility next to O'Neil Cinemas. While this will be the fifth MetroRock location to open following spots in Everett, Newburyport, Essex, Vt., and even Brooklyn, New York, Pott sees Littleton as a unique location for this new, as he dubbed it, "rock gym.
"Gyms historically have some dark places in the back of buildings," he said during a recent tour of the facility. "Here, we have daylight -- actual daylight -- coming through! People can come here and go to the cinema afterwards, and there are strong transport links. I think there will be a lot families nearby."
MetroRock Littleton will feature a plethora of climbing options for people with little or expert climbing experience: multiple top-roping and lead-climbing walls along the side of the indoor facility, as well as bouldering walls for more experienced climbers.
Pott also pointed out other amenities planned for the facility, including a small weight room with workout equipment, a yoga studio, a space for birthday parties, a work/study space for patrons to use for personal business on their computers, and some retail. It's a lot to manage for the Concord resident, who grew up outside of Cambridge (England, that is), but Pott took the job head-on after first hearing about The Point in its planning stages several years ago.
Pott said he had previously climbed at MetroRock's Everett location and got in touch with Pat Enright, co-founder of MetroRock, after learning that the company was looking for investors for the Littleton spot. Pott is no stranger to managing facilities focused on physical fitness; he previously established the Tough Mudder Bootcamp in Burlington, where people train for the popular obstacle race.
"I love starting things up," said Pott, who still speaks in a proper British accent.
Construction has been underway since July 2018, and all that remains is some touch-up painting and laying out padding for the floors underneath the wall. There will still be bits of maintenance going on after MetroRock opens, as Pott noted how the facility's staff will occasionally change up the routes of certain walls to challenge returning patrons.
He said he hopes to have a soft opening before a grand opening in April.
"Our primary aim is for people to come in and enjoy the experience so that they start learning some things about this great world of climbing," Pott added. "It's a great way to stay fit. It's a great way to get to know other people. It's a great way to engage both your brain and your body.
"Many of us go to the gym, and we sit on a bike -- it's a little bit mindless. With climbing, it's a bit like solving a jigsaw puzzle while you're doing some training."