Utah Stories

Catering to Climbers: International Mountain Equipment

Strong, Steady Climb for Climbing Specialty Shop


Whether someone sought to scale the walls of a local canyon or test their strength and skill on an artificial climbing wall of the nearby climbing gym, or even attempt to summit the world’s highest peaks, if they were in Utah, they likely passed through the doors of International Mountain Equipment (IME).

The specialty shop has been catering to the climbing community since 1986 from its low-key location in a strip mall near the mouth of Parley’s Canyon and in the shadow of the well-known, much larger, outdoor gear retailer, REI.

 IME co-owner Scott Carson says that proximity to what might seem like the competition is very deliberate.

“We have a symbiotic relationship with REI. I’d be bummed if they moved away. We started at a location on Highland Drive near REI, and when they moved, so did we,” said Carson. “I’ve taken customers shopping there and they send people here all the time. We both want to put the customer first.”

While there is some crossover, Carson says, IME serves a unique set of customers who need specialized equipment for all types of rock and mountain climbing.

“We get people from all over and locally that we outfit,” said Carson. “We have such a wide variety of rock in Utah, and gear is always improving.”

All avid mountain climbers, Carson and partners, Andy Ross and Paul Harvey, opened IME to serve a niche market that has been growing gradually year after year.

“Even during the recession we were growing. I think people are going to recreate regardless of the economy,” said Carson.

He noted that the growth of the sport, once seen as only for a select and daring few, started to gain more popularity as indoor climbing gyms began sprouting up a little over a decade ago.  

“You started seeing more and more people out [climbing] when the climbing gyms started opening,” he said. “It is easier to get started climbing these days and you can decide how far you want to go with it. We might have someone come in to get shoes for the gym one day, and then, a year or two later, are getting gear to go to Everest.” 

IME is located at 3265 S Valley St. Salt Lake City. 801 484-8073

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