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Three years ago, a vacant canning factory became a hub for Ogden’s climbing community when it was renovated to be The Front Climbing Club of Ogden. The building, located on 20th Street, is about 100 years old and had sat vacant for 30 years before The Front began to
fill it with climbing walls and exercise equipment.
“The building’s got a lot of character,” said Shad Burnham, the manager. “We tried to keep a lot of the building’s original design and structure.”
Some of the architectural highlights of the building that were kept include the warehouse-style roll-up doors, pulleys and chains near the ceiling, and some exposed brick walls throughout the building.
The Front has several climbing areas for different kinds of skills such as bouldering, top-rope climbing and lead climbing. The club is also a regular workout facility with a yoga studio, Slackline, cardio machines and weight-training equipment. Each of these types of training complement rock climbing in some way, Burnham said.
Wesley Whittington has worked at The Front during the past two winters and was president of the Weber State University Climbing Club in spring 2011. He described The Front as a melting pot of climbers.
“It’s not just for the older crowd or just for the younger crowd; it’s not strictly for professionals or only amateurs,” Whittington said. “The great thing about it is that it has something for everyone.”
The WSU Climbing Club does most of its indoor climbing at The Front. Kyle Palmer, president of the WSU Climbing Club, said it is a good place to train and to meet students who are interested in climbing and get them involved in his club. Palmer said the last four or five new members of the WSU Climbing Club were recruited at The Front.
“You can find somebody there who is at your skill level no matter what,” Palmer said. “Even experienced climbers can find somebody there who knows more about climbing than you do, and they are willing to help and teach you. Everybody that climbs there is friendly and willing to help.”
The Front also provides training classes, one-on-one instruction, summer camp and a youth climbing team. These programs are designed to provide a safe and healthy way for children to socialize and develop climbing skills.
“Our goal is to change the perception of the danger of climbing,” Burnham said. “When you go climbing, you really lose track of time, and at the end of the day, not only did you get a great workout in, but you also developed this skill, and now you can go outside and apply that skill.”
Burnham attended WSU until fall 2011 and worked in the climbing gym on campus. In some ways, he said, he credits WSU for developing him as a climber.
“This is just the type of extracurricular to meet new people and truly immerse yourself in the greater climbing community,” he said.
Another goal of The Front is to engage the community through service. The club has worked closely with the Ogden Trail Network to improve some of Ogden’s trails.
“We felt that they aligned well with some of our goals to help develop and sustain the climbing community,” Burnham said. “It just makes sense; when they need people to help with the trails and when they need volunteers, we have access to these passionate people who want to go do that.”
Among the projects The Front has been involved in was securing a RAMP grant last spring for new signage for trails in the area. In the next month, the club’s goal is to install the major trail posts and plaques in the boulder fields between 22nd and 27th Street.