Climbing gym hosts world-class facilities and competition

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Climber ascends challenging 50-foot climbing wall at Momentum Climbing. Millcreek location will host more than 100 youth Saturday for youth regional climbing competition. (Jon Vickers)
Climber ascends challenging 50-foot climbing wall at Momentum Climbing. Millcreek location will host more than 100 youth Saturday for youth regional climbing competition. (Jon Vickers)

Utah boasts some of the greatest climbing terrain in the country. Whether climbers like the ultra-difficult limestone in American Fork Canyon and Logan, the world-famous sandstone splitters and towers of the desert or the impeccable granite of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah is the place to climb outdoors.

The state also touts some unique and world-class indoor climbing gyms. One such gym is hosting the 2015 Sports Climbing Series Youth Divisional Competition next weekend. Climbers throughout the Southwest region will be exposed to these world-class facilities as Momentum Indoor Climbing’s Millcreek location hosts youth from several states in the region who will come to scale their way to the top of the walls and the ranks.

“Our division includes Southern California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah,” said Ben Le Blanc, a staff member at Momentum. “All of those states will send team kids, 18 and under, and compete in climbing and a chance to make it to nationals.”

Staff members will reset the climbing routes prior to the competition. “Given the wide spectrum of competitors, I imagine most route grades will be between 5.10 and 5.14 for the competition,” said Ben Locker, a Momentum desk manager. “There will be well over 100 athletes climbing in the divisional competition, and Momentum is excited to have 40 representatives participate.”

One of the most impressive programs inside the gym is the Momentum Climbing Team, which consists of climbers under the age of 18. These competitive climbers can be found in their matching blue T-shirts, practicing a variety of technical climbs almost every day after school. “They go to different competitions and compete around the region,” Le Blanc said.

Climbers will compete in both a technical and speed climb during the competition next weekend. The top 10 finishers in each category will advance to the national competition, held in Kennesaw, Georgia, later this summer.

Along with several other gyms throughout the state, Momentum Climbing wants to be a catalyst for climbers who are trying to advance their skills. “I love Momentum because of the atmosphere it creates and the terrain it has to offer,” LeBlanc said. “Because it offers steepness, height and overhang, it gives opportunities for every climber to improve.”

The inspiration behind the design of Momentum’s Millcreek location was the natural landscape of Southern Utah, with walls towering 50 feet above the ground and an arch that fully connects two different walls. “The arch is the most difficult wall in the gym,” Le Blanc said. “Any climb on the arch requires you to be completely horizontal, engaging a ton of different muscles — your arms, your shoulders, your core. It’s really difficult terrain that only the advanced climber can conquer.”

But it isn’t necessary to be a professional climber to enjoy climbing at Momentum. “We have walls that a 5-year-old could do very easily all the way up to an advanced or professional climber,” Locker said. “We provide every level of climbing. We even have a number of different youth programs in the gym.”

Admission to the competition is free for spectators, but concessions will be available for purchase.

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