Summer of Fun: Learn to rock climb

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SANDY — If you want to challenge yourself in KSL's Summer of Fun, you'll discover new thrills and skills rock climbing on the Wasatch Front. It's a sport for people of all ages and abilities.

Our original plan Tuesday was to do an outdoor route, but the weather didn't cooperate. So, we decided to head into one of Utah's indoor gyms to learn the basics of safety and how to get started in climbing.

You don't have to be an extreme athlete to fall for climbing. Eleven-year-old Aurora Allen and 10-year-old Xander Butler told us they're hooked on the sport, and the excitement, camaraderie and discipline it instills.

Instructor Michelle Legg, left, show's KSL's Jed Boal, right, the best way to get up the rock wall at Monument Climbing
Instructor Michelle Legg, left, show's KSL's Jed Boal, right, the best way to get up the rock wall at Monument Climbing

Momentum Climbing in Sandy was filled with kids Tuesday, responsibly and safely conquering new challenges. "Pressing yourself and seeing how far you can go; and the worst that happens is you fall, and you keep going," said Chris Dahlkamp.

Climb with experienced people who prioritize safety and your abilities, and most of us will have a blast.

"The benefit of coming into a gym is that you will learn the safe and proper way to execute everything you need to know before you even think about moving outside," said Michelle Legg, with Momentum Climbing.

There are plenty of places where professional instructors can show you the ropes. "Climbing is all about movement, body position and balance," Legg explained.

AJ from 97.1 ZHT joined us for the adventure. "You really learn how to challenge yourself," he said. "You start to trust yourself making moves."

AJ from 97.1 ZHT works to get up the rock wall at Monument Climbing
AJ from 97.1 ZHT works to get up the rock wall at Monument Climbing

After safety lessons and a warm-up route, AJ and I moved on to tougher beginner terrain.

"Make sure you're thinking about keeping your toes into the wall, using your legs to propel you up the wall," Legg instructed. "Your hands are there to keep you on the wall, but not to pull yourself with. Otherwise, you'll be done very quickly."

AJ and I developed the trust you need when another person's safety is at the other end of the rope. When I faced the wall and started to climb, I felt the drive inside to do the best that I could.

Climbers say that's a common motivator. "I never imagined myself two years ago, having a passion for climbing," Derek Larsen said. "I love the fact that I have a new passion. It's my most important passion right now."

Larsen started climbing at age 47 when his son got into it. "You put them on a wall, they solve problems," Larsen said. "They're learning about their bodies. They're thinking tough things. They develop critical thinking skills."

In addition to increased problem-solving abilities, the sport also yields rewards like personal achievement and physical fitness.

"I couldn't believe I made it to the top on the first one, and then the second one," AJ said. "You push yourself a little bit and you surprise yourself."

We got a great introduction to climbing at Momentum Climbing, and learned a lot about safety and our own abilities. In the next couple of weeks, we'll head out and put our skills to the test on the real rock.



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