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.

Organization

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 chelsea.sondgeroth@thefrontclimbingclub.com.

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 chelsea.sondgeroth@thefrontclimbingclub.com.

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.

Hilary Silberman Competitive Team Coach

Climbing is an innate part of who I am. I have been climbing longer than I care to mention! I grew up on the East Coast and started climbing in the Gunks when I was in Grad school in New York state. I fell in love with it and spent every weekend making the drive from NYC to climb. This was during the advent of indoor climbing in the US. I was a gymnast before finding climbing, which really helped me easily make the transition to a climber. I started competing in climbing in the late 80‘s! I competed at the local and National levels. I made my way West via a year long climbing road-trip living the “vanlife.”

Professionally I am a Speech-Language Pathologist, and currently an Assistant Professor at the U. I am also a parent. I have always been an educator and have worked with kids since I was in high school. I coached gymnastics for many years. As a climbing coach, my specialty and love is teaching movement. It is at the core of climbing and everything else builds upon that. Seeing climbers make one little change in their position or where they initiate a movement and then easily do a move, is so rewarding. My philosophy on coaching is to help develop the whole climber. To not only improve their climbing skills, but to support them emotionally and in the mental aspects of the sport. To help kids become the best climber and competitor they can be.

Sam Enright Competitive Team Coach

Coming from the East Coast, my love of climbing began at the age of 10. I was distinctly fond of bouldering, sport climbing, and competition. Throughout the last 10 years, I have pushed myself to be the best climber I can be.  With this mindset, I have been able to compete at a National and World level.  

Coaching is rewarding in a way I never would have expected. Not only is it meaningful to help young climbers progress, but as a coach, I always learn something new from the climbers. A few lessons I have learned from coaching are to not take climbing so seriously and to remember to have always fun. 

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.

Eli Edson Recreational Team Coach

I have been climbing on and off throughout my life and started taking it more seriously around my freshman year in high school. I joined the competitive climbing team at The Front as a sophomore. In the same year, I also started my coaching career at The Front teaching the summer camps and the after school program. I enjoy climbing because it’s not only healthy physical exercise but it’s also a very important mental exercise. In 2017, a piece that I wrote on how climbing affects mental health was published in the Salt Lake magazine “Our Voices.” The article is on page 11 and its titled “Climbing For Therapy” if you’d like to read it!

Coaching is something that I enjoy because it allows me to share my love for climbing with others. It’s exciting to see kids getting involved in the sport and community.

Emma Wood Recreational Team Coach

I started climbing shortly after learning how to walk and I’ve loved it ever since. In middle school I began climbing competitively which gave me the opportunity to travel the country doing this sport. Rock climbing has played a vital role in my life, keeping me active and providing me with a wonderful community. 

I love coaching because I get to pass on my passion for the sport to others. Climbing is a wonderful way to engage both the body and mind in ways that can be used throughout your life. 

Erik O’Brien Recreational Team Coach

Not born, but raised in Salt Lake City my childhood was spent indoors with videos games and music rather than the more typical climbing story of a youth spent connecting with the great outdoors. Having no car and only a mountain bike in college I figured I might as well put it to good use and began my relationship with outdoor sports. One crash lead to another till I decided I should switch to something a little bit more low impact and climbing seemed like a fun fit. It quickly became an all encompassing hobby that let me make amazing friends, took me incredible places, and challenged me in ever different ways. And most importantly it was just plain fun.

Having a degree and work history that focuses on communication and working with others, being a climbing coach melds my past experiences together. My time spent as a backpacking guide, after school instructor, and ski instructor makes coaching a fun and great fit for me. I know that if I can help anyone enjoy the sport half as much as I do that they will be having the time of their lives!

Alexis Maurice Recreational Team Coach

In 2017, I walked into the Front with the intention to climb so I can get over my fear of heights and it ended up turning into way more for me. I came in here with no experience and no idea where climbing would lead me. After all the help from the employees I felt like a pro in no time and The Front became my new favorite place. I wanted to help so I joined in the summer of 2018 and had the best time – just to see the kids’ excitement when they finished their project or to even just when they got to the top of a climb made me so happy. So when I got asked to do After School Program and coach the Recreational team, I was eager to start! I just love to see the kiddos send their projects and have the same passion for climbing as I do! 

Team Athletes in Action