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Despite free membership opportunities, students look off-campus for climbing options

Westminster College’s rock wall is 46 vertical feet tall with various climbing routes. The wall also is home to different climbing competitions throughout the year. (Madison Hales)

While students are glad the campus provides a climbing wall and classes, many are looking toward the local community for other climbing options. 

Climbing can be defined as the sport or activity of ascending mountains or cliffs and has become a major culture on Westminster College’s campus.

However, many are now opting to climb inside on rock walls instead of outside. 

With a simple Google search of climbing gyms in Salt Lake City, two facilities rise to the top of the list: The Front Climbing Club and Momentum Climbing. 

The Front is a nine-minute drive from Westminster’s campus and Momentum Climbing has a Millcreek location only 11 minutes away. 

Both gyms offer climbing and bouldering walls as well as things people would see in a traditional gym such as weights, spin classes, yoga classes, etc.

Scott Harvath, a Utah native, climbs with friends down in Arches National Park. Harvath enjoys climbing outside but likes what climbing gyms have to offer during the off season. (Photo Courtesy: Scott Harvath)

With all of those amenities comes a price. The Front and Momentum have day passes as well as membership opportunities. A day pass at The Front runs at $25 and a day pass to Momentum is priced at $20. 

So why would students shell out that price when the climbing wall and group exercise classes are free at Westminster College?

The Dolores Dore Eccles Health, Wellness and Athletic Center — known to students as HWAC — is home to a myriad of fitness endeavors. Large lap pool, wakeup yoga, hip hop and cycle fusion classes — there is something for everyone. 

For beginner climbers, there is a 60-minute Intro to Climbing course that’s also a part of the 2019 fall group exercise schedule. 

Charlie Stuermer, a student at Westminster, used to climb the HWAC climbing wall almost every day. He said he loved it because of how close it was to the dorms and how many friends he would see there. 

After moving off campus, he said he stopped climbing there and switched to a membership at The Front. 

Lienne Cupal, a sophomore psych major, has been climbing for 13 years. She was introduced to climbing at Momentum Climbing when she was six years old. 

“Personally, one of the biggest draws of Momentum is the community,” Cupal said. “A lot of the local climbers are going to either the Front or Momentum, so it’s a great place to connect with people who are passionate about the same sport.” 

One of the main attractions of places like The Front and Momentum Climbing is the different route options.

Cupal said there is a “variety of the terrain to the types of problems [or] routes set, both gyms have boulders [and] routes that people of all ability levels love in addition to a fun and engaging environment.”

The Westminster climbing wall is viewable from three different locations. Students and members of the community are able to watch climbers easily from the main level of the HWAC gym. (Madison Hales)

Stuermer agreed, pointing to the benefits of multiple route options. 

“For the most part, you can almost always find yourself a route to climb without having to wait in line or feel self-conscious having people watch you,” Stuermer said. 

Not all students are interested in climbing, however. Nicole Rodriguez, a senior physics major, said she tends to skip out on any type of climbing wall.

“The two reasons I don’t climb very often are one because I am afraid of heights,” Rodriguez said. “Two, I am intimidated by the people there because they know what they are doing, and Westminster has a smaller facility.”

According to Cupal and Stuermer, students like Rodriguez might enjoy what The Front or Momentum Climbing have to offer.

When it comes to pricing, Stuermer said the day prices can be expensive for those who just want to try climbing for a day. 

“It is often hard to convince my friends who don’t have a pass to come with me and pay for a day pass,” Stuermer said.  

Some students said if climbing was less expensive, they would be more inclined to go. 

“If places like The Front or Momentum had a student discount, I would go,” Rodriguez said.

But, Stuermer said there are ways around the expensive day prices, like getting a partner pass with a friend.  Overall, she said it the price is worth it. 

“With the membership, you have access to the entire facility as well as their many classes that they offer there,” Stuermer said.

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Madison Hales
Madison Hales is a senior communication major. She enjoys being a part time vegan, shoe shopping and spending time with her grandmother. Madison is eager to use the skills she has acquired in the real world.

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