Meet Your Merchant | Tahoe fitness center keeps climbing |

Meet Your Merchant | Tahoe fitness center keeps climbing

Owner Jason Burd and General Manager Heather Palmer are both avid climbers. High Altitude Fitness’ climbing wall is the largest indoor climbing wall in Nevada.
Courtesy Jenny Luna |

More info

What: High Altitude Fitness

Location: 880 Northwood Blvd. Incline Village

Phone: 775-831-4212


INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — High Altitude Fitness hasn’t found one niche, but aims to fill them all.

“We have to be everything to everyone,” said General Manager Heather Palmer. “We provide a place people can do cardio or take group fitness or a yoga class or climb.”

Avid climber Jason Burd bought Incline Athletic Club in 2006 and has made improvements each year.

This summer, an outdoor park became an exciting addition to the gym where yogis practiced on grass and boot camp attendants enjoyed their sweat under the sun.

“Fitness isn’t just about 15 reps at a weight machine — it’s so much more.”
Cassandra Chandler

Heather said the outdoor park was a success and a welcome addition to the gym.

“The park allows us to take fitness outside and still be in a gym environment,” she said.

Trainer Cassandra Chandler incorporated the park’s monkey bars and tires in her high intensity group fitness classes.

“This year I had full classes the whole summer,” said Cassandra. “I try to really work with people and tell them the gym isn’t just a winter thing. You need to keep working out and not just quit.”


Another improvement to the gym was $200,000 worth of new cardio equipment.

“It’s either keep broken equipment and piecemeal it back together, or provide the member with brand new stuff to enhance their workout even more,” Heather said.

Cassandra said staying on top of recent developments in exercise equipment and the industry is something Jason makes a priority.

“He is really good at staying on top of the trends,” Cassandra said. “This club really offers a variety.”

Cassandra also educates herself in the fitness industry’s latest trends by attending conferences. She recently attended a TRX Suspension Training and a Tabata Bootcamp and brought the exercises to High Altitude.

“Fitness isn’t just about 15 reps at a weight machine — it’s so much more,” Cassandra said.

The trainer works with her clients to do high intensity and functional training.

“It’s something I enjoy and I get to pass it off,” she said. “I want my clients to have fun.”


The large leather chairs near the fireplace and the snack bar look out onto the gym’s most important, or signature, amenity: the climbing wall.

Neon holds cover most of the wall. The vast space offers 3,800 vertical feet of climbing for all ages.

Every six weeks employees and local climbers reset the routes to create new challenges for climbers to tackle.

Enthusiasts come from all over the country and the world to scale the rocks around Tahoe, and High Altitude Fitness is their hub.

“There wasn’t a local facility where locals could come in the winter and train,” Heather said. “This place gives you the ability to climb when it’s blizzard-ing outside and you have to work the next day.”


High Altitude also offers young climbers the chance to compete and train throughout the year.

Local children rope up and grab high after school for High Altitude’s climbing team. And through fellow climbers and friends, Jason worked to bring skilled coaches to the area.

Flannery Shay-Nemirow set up camp in Incline after three weeks on the road, traveling and climbing across the country in what she calls a “rite of passage in the climbing world.”

During the week Flannery, who is sponsored by Five Ten, and Asana climbing athlete Kyle O’Meara work with the children on the wall. High Altitude’s climbing team practices for regional competitions which take place throughout the winter.

Working for an experienced climber and knowledgeable businessman has convinced Flannery to stay in the area for a while.

“Jason has a really good knowledge of what climbing entails,” she said. “It’s obvious that he really cares.”

Flannery said she loves climbing for the mental and physical challenge.

“I like climbing because it offers a sweet spot between solving puzzles and it’s also physical,” she said. “You’re constantly thinking and putting into action.”

For women new to climbing or looking to get tips and improve technique, High Altitude offers a free Ladies’ Night 4-8 p.m.

Visit for a complete list of group fitness classes, climbing clinics and membership information.

Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at

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