Indoor rock climbing a Summit County hit |

Indoor rock climbing a Summit County hit

Kent Risher’s parents worried. Their precious baby, even at the age of one, couldn’t roll over from his stomach to his back or side. They later found out the reason Kent had no pectorals in his chest to help him push.

Despite this abnormality, the Rishers encouraged Kent to explore athletics and to keep in shape. Although he did not have the muscle that is used heavily in push-ups, pull-ups, bench-pressing and many other exercises, Kent always enjoyed sports.

When a friend invited him to go rock climbing, Kent told the friend that he probably wouldn’t be able to do it, but that he’d love to give it a try. Just five years later, Kent was one of the top youth rock climbers in the country.

"Without a chest muscle, I had to develop my forearms, biceps, triceps and other muscles to compensate," Kent said. "But I fell in love with it so fast that I would’ve done anything to continue climbing. It’s a great workout and a great rush."

The National Ability Center in Park City wants to provide a place where kids, like Kent, can fall in love with rock climbing.

Brooke Hafets, Outreach Manager at the NAC, said they want everyone to be able to experience the thrill of climbing a mountain, so the NAC brought mountain climbing indoors.

The indoor wall at the Center is one of three in Summit County. Climbing indoors, Hafets said, allows for year-round climbing in a controlled and safe environment.

"The center would like to invite children of all abilities to experience the excitement the 32-foot climbing wall provides," she said in a news release. "The seven different routes catering to all levels of participants are secured top-rope climbs."

Their wall even includes an "Armed and Dangerous" route for those without use of the lower half of their body.

There are several times to climb at the NAC. There are two two-hour sessions held every Saturday from now until the end of August, excepting the weekend of July 15. Reservations must be made the Thursday before the desired sessions, which are at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. July 15 is an open house and climbing will be free without appointment. Other than those scheduled times, the wall is open to anyone between the ages of five and 13 any day if reservations are made in advance by calling Francie Kochanek at (435) 649-3991. Hafets also said the Center is always in need of volunteers to help climbers.

Another option for climbers is at South Summit Aquatic and Fitness Center in Kamas. Their wall is open on Monday and Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 to 2 p.m.

Nonmembers must purchase a day pass, which are available for $5 for adults and $3 for children. Climbers must have closed-toed shoes and a harness, which are available for rent for $2.50. The Center can be contacted at (435) 783-2423.

The third option is at Black Diamond Gymnastics and Sports Center in Park City. Although the company has been open for seven years, the climbing wall is a new addition since May.

Katy Heddens, owner and director of Black Diamond said the 19-foot high wall occupies 925-square-feet of space in the building and uses eight top-rope stations.

"We have room to expand it if it’s popular enough and if the community wants that," she said. "We designed it so beginning level climbers of all ages can learn and so advanced climbers can boulder and work on their technique. It’s for everyone."

Heddens said there used to be a climbing program in Park City, but that it no longer operates.

"With all the research we’ve done about the community it just seemed like a perfect fit," she said. "There is no reason someone should have to leave Park City to climb."

Open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Black Diamond has climbing classes, open climb, parties, corporate team building activities, gymnastics, tumbling, trampoline, and yesterday added an aerial skiing program.

Costs start at $7 per person, but climbers can call the gym for a coupon giving free admission to each child accompanying a paying adult. Black Diamond can be reached at (435) 615-1800, (866) FLIP-4FUN or online at

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