Team Introduction

Climbing is one of the fastest growing and most exciting youth sports in the world, and now that it is an Olympic event, the future for youth participation and development is brighter than ever. Climbing provides valuable and unique experiences for young athletes, teaching them to how to stay calm and focus their attention in demanding situations.

Climbing is also a community sport that thankfully lacks the cutthroat competitiveness of other sports. Even at national level events, competitors genuinely cheer for each other and hope that each athlete will do their very best. Locally, living along the Wasatch Front provides unique experiences for young climbers, as this area has some of the best climbing resources in the world and the Salt Lake climbing community has done much to advance the sport.

The Front is one of the biggest and best climbing facilities in the world providing significant advantages to athletes who train and climb here. Our coaching staff has been selected based on their skill as teachers and ability to work well with both groups and individuals. They put the emotional well-being and development of each athlete first, knowing the great performances come from confident, happy athletes who believe in themselves and their abilities. For all these reasons and more, The Front is the very best place for kids to come discover, learn about, and fall in love with climbing.


The Salt Lake Front Climbing Team is divided into two tracks; a Recreational Team and a Competitive Team. The Competitive Team has two separate seasons, Fall (ABS Climbing Season) and Winter (SCS Climbing Season). The ABS is a faction of USA Climbing, the governing body over competitive climbing in the United States.

Recreational Team

The recreational team is for kids ages 6 – 18 who have caught the climbing bug and want to make it a weekly activity. The recreation team is a fun way for climbers to develop their climbing skills and increase their climbing level.

The rec team develops technical skills such as those needed for roped climbing and also develops fundamental skills of climbing movement in a fun supportive environment. The team’s goal is for kids to develop skills and interest in the sport while enjoying the satisfaction that comes with developing as an athlete.

Pricing: $150/month + membership costs
Practice times:
 Monday & Wednesday | 5:00pm – 7:00pm
For more information/details on how to join the rec team, please contact Chelsea at

Competitive Team

Our competitive climbing team is for youth 6 – 18 that show real enthusiasm and aptitude for climbing. Team members compete at the local, national and international levels including the national and world championships. While competitions provide the context for the team, our goals are to foster athletic and emotional development for all team members, developing a strong community, and to have fun in the process!

The comp team is a place where athletes deepen their appreciation and understanding of advanced climbing skills including technical skills such as on-sight and redpoint climbing, motor skills including the initiation and timing of climbing’s complex movements, and emotional skills such as staying calm in demanding high-pressure situations.

The coaching staff makes use of cutting-edge tools such as video analysis on a daily basis to help team members be successful in these areas. The comp team also engages in sport specific training so that they are technically, emotionally, and athletically ready for the unique challenges of climbing. We love helping these gifted athletes develop in these ways, and seeing them grow as people.

Pricing: $205/month + membership costs
Practice times: Monday, Wednesday & Thursday | 4:00pm – 6:30pm
For more information/details on how to join the comp team, please contact Chelsea at

Meet the Coaches

Chelsea Sondgeroth
Programming Manager & Competitive Team Coach

Hello! I began climbing in college after it was introduced to me by a friend and I was instantly hooked! At the time I just saw it as a hobby, but it quickly turned into something much more than that. After graduating with a degree in Kinesiology and an emphasis in exercise science, I got my first job in the climbing industry coaching in South Carolina. During my time there, my passion and excitement for youth programs and climbing grew extensively and I loved the fact that I was able to combine my love for climbing with my college degree. Originally from Illinois, and recently South Carolina, I’ve always had the desire to live somewhere with easier access to more outdoor climbing and that’s what brought me to Salt Lake City. I look forward to continuing to coach and watch the team kids grow, not only as climbers but also as people!

Dylan Empey 
Competitive Team Coach

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, I have been climbing for years and have coached athletes at Regional, Divisional, and National levels. Teaching is my passion and I am currently pursuing a Master’s of Education at Westminster College. My favorite places to climb include Red Rocks, Thailand, and of course locally at Little Cottonwood Canyon.

I use a student-centered approach to teaching and coaching—focusing on the individual and adapting curriculum as necessary to cater to individual needs and goals. I am proud to hold certificates through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) with both a CWA as well as SPI. I plan to continue my education in order to constantly improve as an instructor!

Akshil Patel
Competitive Team Coach

I’m a scientist/engineer by day, a pebble wrestler by night, and a partner acrobat somewhere in the middle. I started off this journey called life in Pennsylvania, after which I moved to New York, then Los Angeles, and now I find myself in Salt Lake. I have a degree in biology, but am now pursuing a career in mechanical/aerospace engineering at The U. I’ve been climbing for a few years now, focusing primarily on bouldering and sport. One of my favorite things about it is how it can take you to so many amazing places outdoors, so if I’m not at school or at The Front, you’ll most likely find me hopping on some good rock outside! One of my favorite parts about coaching is seeing the kids grow into better versions of themselves. As a coach not only do you get to see your kids grow in strength, both mentally and physically, but you also get to be a part of that experience.

Sarah Schlaefke 
Recreational Team Coach

When it comes to the outdoor world, I don’t think there is anything I love more than climbing on rocks. I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and previously Chicago, so when climbing first entered my life I wanted to spread my newfound passion in every way that I could. In the past, I played a big role in teaching at my home gym, Milwaukee Turners, and teaching within my collegiate club climbing team, MUFA. I have a strong focus on mechanical efficiency and using space and muscle to maximize power and pull harder moves, which helps me as a woman climb harder according to how my body works.

When the opportunity arose to coach kids, I jumped on it immediately. I want to be able to share my passion and excitement for climbing with the kiddos so that maybe they’ll fall in love with rocks the way I have. I also find climbing empowering, which is important while growing up. Lastly, I love sharing the community of climbing, the values of caring for one another, and celebrating success as a team with the kids I coach now.

Cole Cooper
Recreational Team Coach

Rock climbing has been my biggest passion since I was a senior in High School. Due to some physical health problems, climbing has been a vitally important way to engage my body in a healthy manner. It’s also always a good excuse to go out and enjoy the outdoors. Furthermore, I see the unique value that climbing gives to every person that enjoys it. From the beginner to the veteran, the joy of climbing is something that is truly special. Dancing up the wall using mind and body is a profound experience and my goal as an instructor is sharing this experience with others. Instilling a lifetime passion isn’t easy, but coaching at The Front makes surely makes it easier.

“The best climbers around the world are the ones who are having the most fun.”

Kelsey Hanson
Recreational Team Coach

I hail from the generally frozen state of Michigan and got my start climbing in 1995. My parents had been alpinists in the late 1970s and 80s. When I was 9, they broke out the swami belts and what I hoped was a dynamic rope and took the family down to Garden of the Gods in SoIll. We moved to Colorado when I was in my teens and got some proper instruction (and gear) from the local sport climbing community. I discovered gym climbing when I moved back to MI for college and have been involved with volunteering, training, setting, and coaching both recreational
and competitive teams ever since.

I have a million reasons why I coach. It feels good to pass on something that has been so central to my happiness and well-being. The climbing community is an incredible thing to be a part of and being able to share that and the joy and challenge of the sport with these kids is important to me. I enjoy the challenge of finding getting to know my students and figuring out how they learn best and it’s a great experience to be a part of their growth and success.

Fallon Rowe
Recreational Team Coach

Climbing has been my number one passion for the past 15 years, and it has enriched my life in so many ways. I grew up as a competitive climber in Boise, ID, and traveled often to attend USA Climbing youth competitions. In university as a geology student, I founded and coached the collegiate USU Climbing Team in Logan, UT. Now, I am loving post-college life in Salt Lake City where I have ample opportunities to climb outside. I mostly climb trad and sport, but I still love my roots as a comp climber. Passing on my passion for climbing to kids is very rewarding, and I love seeing their progress and joy in the sport! This community has been so great for me, and it’s awesome to help the next generation of climbers grow up to be responsible, confident, and strong.

Team Athletes in Action