Boulder’s Neptune Mountaineering has survived everything from recessions to rent hikes over the past 40 years. But shortly after Gary Neptune (who opened the shop in 1973 to serve the Front Range’s burgeoning climbing community) sold his iconic store to Texas-based outdoor retailer Backwoods in 2013, things started to go sideways, and Backwoods filed for bankruptcy in 2016. Then, earlier this year, Boulderites Andrew and Shelley Dunbar, the North American distributors for outdoor gear manufacturer Sea to Summit, stepped in and purchased Neptune—with big plans for its future.
By Thanksgiving, they’ll have devoted at least a thousand more square feet in the Table Mesa Shopping Center location to retail; put in a 35-foot-wide climbing wall for demos and clinics; converted part of the space into Colorado Mountain School’s new headquarters; and added a coffeeshop that morphs into a beer and wine bar at night. Plus, they’re restoring a favorite piece of the past to its former glory: Gary Neptune’s mountaineering museum, which boasts boots, skis, crampons, ice axes, and carabiners from famous expeditions like the first successful summit of Mt. Everest (1953) and the first one without supplemental oxygen (1978). So even if all you come for is climbing chalk, you’ll walk out with something priceless: inspiration.