Team Introduction

Climbing is one of the fastest growing and most exciting youth sports in the world. 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 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.

We are 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 that great performances come from confident, happy athletes who believe in themselves and their abilities. For all these reasons and more, we are 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 three tracks: Recreational, Intermediate and Competitive Team. Our Competitive Team has two separate seasons: Fall (ABS Climbing Season) and Winter (SCS Climbing Season). The ABS is a faction of USA Climbing, which is 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. This program offers a fun way for climbers to develop their climbing skills and increase their climbing level.

The Rec Team advances 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
For more information/details on how to join the rec team, please contact Chelsea at chelsea.hesslau@thefrontclimbingclub.com.

Intermediate Team

This program bridges the gap between our existing Comp and Rec Teams and allows each team to have a narrower focus while better accommodating a wide range of abilities.

Our Intermediate Team is for kids ages 6-18 who already possess a solid understanding of basic climbing technique and have demonstrated an interest in climbing in a structured environment.

This program provides team members with the opportunity to learn more advanced technique, dive into the basics of climbing-specific strength and mobility training, and be introduced to competition climbing strategies in a more relaxed setting than the Competitive Team. Intermediate Team members are not required to attend competitions at this level but will be encouraged to do so!

Pricing: $195/month + membership costs
For more information/details on how to join the intermediate team, please contact Chelsea at chelsea.hesslau@thefrontclimbingclub.com.

Competitive Team

Our Competitive 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, develop a strong community and, of course, 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 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 and seeing them grow as people!

Pricing: $225/month + membership costs
For more information/details on how to join the comp Team, please contact Chelsea at chelsea.hesslau@thefrontclimbingclub.com.

Meet the Comp & Intermediate Coaches

Chelsea Sondgeroth Programming Director & Competitive Team Coach

Hello! I began climbing in college after it was introduced to me by a friend. 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 this time 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, which is 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!

Ben Roa Competitive Team Coach

Hi I’m Ben! I started climbing when I was about 18 years old, and ever since I’ve been hooked. I got involved with the climbing community through the climbing team at the University of Utah, as well as working front desk at The Front. Climbing is my excuse to go on adventures; whether it be travelling for competition or wrestling pebbles somewhere in the desert. I love the places climbing has taken me and the people I’ve met through this awesome sport.

I am absolutely psyched to be coaching the comp team at The Front because I want to share my passion for climbing with the next generation. This group has a ton of enthusiasm and potential, and it’s cool to see the progression of these talented young folks!

Cheyenne Stirling Competitive Team Coach

I grew up in Shelby, a small Montana town near the Canadian border. I went to college at Montana State University and received a degree in Biological Sciences and Environmental Horticulture. I was awarded the Jerry O’Neal National Park Service Student Fellowship which gave me the chance to spend the summer of 2015 doing my own research on bats roosting in buildings in Glacier National Park.

In February of 2014, I began climbing. That summer, I took my first trip to Ten Sleep, WY where I decided to pursue climbing and all it has to offer. Within a couple of years, I began teaching kids at the local climbing gym which led to coaching the competition climbers and becoming a route setter. I then took my climbing career further coaching and teaching for The Climbing Academy an international high school for rock climbers. This took me to China, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and across the United States. After two years, I decided to move to SLC to pursue a career in Environmental Horticulture. I enjoy coaching all types of climbing, each person has a unique way they approach climbing and I find it engaging to work with that as a coach. I enjoy working through tough goals with climbers and coaching individuals through the mental side of climbing.

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.

Kelsey Hanson Intermediate 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.

Nick Woo Intermediate Team Coach I come from the state of Tennessee, a sandstone mecca for rock climbers. It was here that the beginnings of my climbing took place; this sport was what ultimately led me to move across the country to Salt Lake City after I graduated from college. During college, I studied physics. Something that captivated my attention was the sub-discipline of biomechanics, the study of movement in living organisms. This was a field that encapsulated both my love for climbing and science; I realized I no longer had to choose between the two seemingly different subjects. With climbing evolving, there will be a call to formalize an array of metrics associated with how to train these athletes. By combining my two passions, I want to be at the front lines of climbing by becoming a sports scientist, so I can help train the emerging generation of climbers.

Charlene Smith Intermediate Team Coach

I began climbing my first year at college, about 3 years ago. There was a climbing club at my school and, with a childhood background in gymnastics, I craved a sport that could match the demands of strength, balance, agility, and equally, if not more importantly, mindfulness- and climbing was just that. I was instantly intrigued. I started off on the recreation team at my school and later tried out for a spot on the competition team, proceeding to climb competitively for a semester at both a regional and national level, collegiately.

Since having ended my brief stint in the competitive world of climbing, I now continue to enjoy climbing leisurely, both indoors and outdoors. Within the past year or so, climbing has become more than just a sport to me- it’s become a lifestyle, as well as a significant form of therapy and meditation. I love hiking, climbing, and adventuring out in nature, and climbing has, and always will be, a nice escape from the occasional demands of the real world, as well as a means of reaching my goals and progressing, not only through grades but also through life! I’m super stoked to help big and little crushers of all ages climb their way to happiness while achieving their dreams and goals.

Meet the Rec Coaches

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!

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.”

Elese Peifer Youth Coach

I grew up in Salt Lake City and was first introduced to climbing at Rockreation when I was in grade school. But when I moved to Colorado for school, I fell in love with the sport and the community. I quickly started working at my university’s climbing wall and then at a local gym in adult and youth programming after graduating. I was also introduced to competitive climbing and competed on the Collegiate circuit during my senior year of college. I am now a student at the University of Utah, working on my Masters of Occupational Therapy with the goal to help people participate in the activities that they love. Climbing has become my passion and I am so excited to share this amazing community with everyone!

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.

Ryan Pratt Recreational Team Coach

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, the mountains are always where I always escaped and found all the joy in life. It started out skiing and dabbling in various summer sports never really finding that passion that I found in skiing. After high school and finding a new group of friends, it was a short time later that I discovered climbing with these friends. I quickly fell in love with this sport, filling that passion that I wanted to find. I spent that summer climbing just about every day. I’ve had a lot of experience teaching kids new sports from swim lessons to ski lessons, and now a climbing coach. I love to share the skills that I know and love with youth, and love watching them grow and have fun.

If I am not climbing, I will be skiing or doing math, math is my guilty pleasure.

Team Athletes in Action