THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018

2018 CWA Summit

conference Sessions

The Summit brings together indoor climbing industry members to learn and grow professionally. This year, we've invested more resources than ever into our conference session lineup, and we're proud to bring you high-quality content from industry leaders and business experts. The content we've selected will address key issues facing the industry, such as flooring and diversity. We've also selected topics to help you deepen your skill set as an indoor climbing professional.

Until the 2019 Conference Session Schedule is finalized, browse the 2018 schedule to learn more about the event. 

8:30 AM - 9:45 AM: Breakout Sessions

So Your Parents Keep Asking About Youth Programs?

Nicole Brandt, Momentum Climbing

Room: River Birch

Track: Program Management

Best Practices for Using the Latest Rock Gym Pro Features
Andy Laakman, Rock Gym Pro

Room: Goldenglow
Track: Management/Leadership

Speed Climbing: Beginner to Advanced Techniques
Chi Harris, Multnomah Athletic Club

Room: Carter Lake
Track: Coaching/Training

Training to Failure, Non-normal and Other Unlikely and Highly Effective Training Strategies That Build Competency Fast
Jeff Jackson, Algonquin College

Room: Aspen Daisy
Track: Management/Leadership


Setting for the Future
Tonde Katiyo, Bouldering Project

Room: Snowberry

Track: Routesetting

Loans Through a Lender's Eye

Matt Roberts, Vertical Adventures

Room: Elderberry
Track: Startups/Innovation


Coaching For Winning and Life Lessons (Session One of Two)
Tyler Johnson, Positive Coaching Alliance
Room: Big Thompson

Track: USA Climbing Coaches Symposium

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM: Plenary/All Attendees

12:45 PM - 1:45 PM: Lunch on Your Own

2:00 PM - 2:45 PM: Product Presentations

FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2018

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM: Breakout Sessions

Pending: Retail Bootcamp

Room: River Birch                   
Track: Startups/Innovation   

Spotting Employment Discrimination and Preventing Sexual Harassment

Jason Pill, Phelps Dunbar LLP

Room: Goldenglow

Track: Legal

Roundtable: Women in Climbing

Room: Carter Lake

Track: Management/Leadership

Adaptive Climbing Theory Lab

Jillian Yatsko, Mesa Rim Climbing Center

Room: Elderberry

Program Management

Importance of Quality Coaches

Justen Sjong, Climbing Sensei INC

Room: Big Thompson

Track: USA Climbing Coaches Symposium        

Roundtable: Routesetters

Room: Carter Lake

Track: Routesetting

11:30 AM - 12:15 PM: Product Presentations

12:15 PM - 1:15 PM: Lunch on Your Own

1:30 PM - 2:15 PM: Product Presentations

2:30 PM - 3:45 PM: Plenary/All Attendees


Speaker: Michael Gentile, Executive Director, Sports Labs USA

Conference Track: Plenaries

Description: This session will cover the type of testing used to assess a wide variety sport surfaces. We will cover many types of testing that will include materials, product impact attenuation, surface performance, in-situ and more. Then onto a look at what specific sports have done to include performance and safety testing parameters. After discussing number of sports will dive into the specific testing that has been performed by Sports Labs USA on climbing fall systems with a closer look at bouldering and top rope flooring systems. Our final portion will cover standardized testing and will include some of the ASTM tests used to quantify flooring characteristics. We also cover the new EN 12572 European standard for climbing gyms.


 - The nature and use of testing used in sports surface industry. This will cover turf fields, running tracks, playgrounds, trampoline parks, etc.

 - Characteristics and attributes of fall surfacing.

 - Discuss the testing we have performed on climbing fall surface products. This will cover both top rope and bouldering areas.

 - A review standards ASTMs and the EN 12572, European Standards for climbing gyms.

About Michael: Michael Gentile is Executive Director and a founding member of Sports Labs USA. Sports Labs USA has become North America's largest and most trusted recreational surface testing and inspection firm. Sports Labs holds every major sports testing certification and provides testing services for 1,000+ fields per year in North America alone. They have provided services for clients and events that include the FIFA Women's World Cup, World Rugby, Super bowl, NFL stadiums, Major League Soccer teams, IAAF Track & Field and many major universities.



Moderator: Renee DeAngelis

Panelists: Sophia Danenberg, Shelma Jun, Lynn Hill, Stephanie Ko Pound, Halcy Webster, Becca Droz

Conference Track: Plenaries


Description: 2017 was a landmark year for the sport of climbing, and many of these accomplishments are attributed to women. Despite climbing’s roots as an elite male sport, climbing today is stacked with role models who transcend this history, and within the sport of climbing there is tremendous opportunity to smash gender stereotypes and impart values of equality. Equally in a workplace environment, we wish to hear about the experiences of professional women in the indoor climbing industry and offer insight towards developing progressive, inclusive workplaces.

This panel will explore the history of women in climbing in athletic and professional contexts, celebrate accomplishments, identify past and existing challenges, and provide the tools to help develop and nurture climbing communities and professional environments that are inclusive of women.


​ - ​Explore and celebrate the athletic and professional accomplishments of women in climbing throughout history

​ - ​Acknowledge the challenges historically faced by women in athletic and professional contexts, and explore the parallels in sport and business

​ - ​Provide a pulse check on the status of women in climbing today: progress made and challenges yet to be overcome

​ - ​Offer strategies for climbing gym owners/operators/staff/route setters/program managers to cultivate gym communities and workplaces that are inclusive of women



Format: Roundtable discussions are a gathering of people interested in a given topic, generally with similar job functions and experience. This type of session helps facilitate discussion and debate on the topic and the circular layout provides equal right to participate, as opposed to a lecture-style session. Attendance to these sessions will be capped in order to keep them as productive as possible. Details for signing up will be released prior to the event.

Topics: Through input from our members and industry partners, the CWA has selected a group of roundtable topics and/or functional areas, including:

 - Flooring: Moderated by Michael Gentile, Sports Labs USA and Bill Zimmerman, CWA

 - Routesetters: Moderated by Jackie Hueftle, Founder, Kilter Grips

 - Independent Gym Owners

 - Gym Managers: Moderated by Dan Jeanette, Membership Manager, CWA

 - Women in Climbing: Moderated by Hilary Harris, CEO, EVO Rock + Fitness



Speaker: Justen Sjong, Climbing Sensei

Conference Track: USA Climbing Coaches Symposium

Description: This session will layout a conversation addressing the importance of investing in a quality coaching staff and the value this staff will bring to your gym. You will find answers to questions such as:

 - What determines a quality coach?

 - Does your community have a good youth program but struggle with building a program that works with adults?

 - What are some next steps for building dynamic adult programs in your community?

About Justen: Justen is an accomplished coach. He has been coaching climbers since 1994, and in that time he has helped people of all abilities push their limits. He specializes in evaluating climbing movement and provides drills to improve an athlete's weaknesses. With a balance of intensity and light-heartedness, he explains complex ideas in a simple, logical manner so that his clients understand the long-term direction and goals.



Speaker: Tyler Johnson, Positive Coaching Alliance

Conference Track: USA Climbing Coaches Symposium

Description: The research and experiences of great coaches across the country is clear: Positive is Powerful. In this highly interactive two-hour workshop – sparked by video-based advice from top pro athletes and coaches on PCA’s National Advisory Board – attendees explore why and how to pursue both winning and the more important goal of teaching life lessons through climbing.


Each of your coaches will leave the workshop as a PCA-certified Double-Goal Coach, knowing how to: Fill Emotional Tanks; Coach for Mastery of Sport (Not Just Results); and Honor the Game.

About Tyler: Tyler was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, moving to Iowa when he was five. Tyler played about every sport out there, eventually finding success as an all-state running back and elite all-state track athlete. He received a scholarship to play football at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as captain, and helped the Panthers to two conference titles and NCAA playoffs. Getting a degree in business and economics he used that to work in professional sports working for the Chicago White Sox, Denver Nuggets and helping launch the Colorado Chapter of Positive Coaching Alliance. Currently Tyler does workshops for Positive Coaching Alliance, works with Denver NeuraPerformance Brain Center and works with high school and collegiate athletes through his company Elevate Educate Rejuvenate. His mission is to help athletes become the positive leaders that our teams, schools and communities need. Also enjoys novice indoor rock climbing!


Speaker: Arno Ilgner, The Warrior's Way

Conference Track: USA Climbing Coaches Symposium

Description: Motivation can move us toward willingly engaging stressful competitive situations or create anxiety, dreading competition. By understanding motivation we're less likely to fall victim to its limitations and better able to capitalize on its strengths. We can create a habit that utilizes the helpful aspects of motivation and have practices that strengthen it.

The audience will leave understanding a key habit that shifts attention to the helpful aspects of motivation and practices that support it. These can be utilized themselves or when teaching climbers and competitors to maximize performance and enjoyment. 

Attendees will learn how to:

 - Understand the strengths and limitations of motivation
 - Create a foundational habit that motivates us to engage stress

 - Identify practices we can focus on that support this foundational habit

About Arno: Arno Ilgner distinguished himself as a pioneering rock climber in the 1970s and 80s. In 1995, after searching the literature and practice of mental training, Ilgner formalized his methods, created The Warrior’s Way, and began teaching full time. Ilgner has taught clinics across the U.S.A. and abroad. He holds a BA in Geology, operated a geological consulting firm, acted as CFO for a company, and attended the Army Ranger School. He lives and climbs in Tennessee.




Speaker: Ben Spannuth, Tension Climbing

Conference Track: USA Climbing Coaches Symposium

Description: Measuring the forces applied to climbing holds throughout a movement is one means of providing information about how climbing moves vary between movement type, climber, and attempt. Coaches and setters interested in the requirements of a climber to perform a given move and how to maximize climbing efficiency may benefit from attending.

About Ben: Ben is a co-founder of Tension Climbing and past physiology instructor and neuroscience researcher.



Speaker: Ryan Gagnon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Clemson University

Conference Track: Management & Leadership

Description: The first person to climb 5.16 may be an inner-city kid who has never tied in or pulled plastic. As a youth sport, climbing is growing at an exponential rate and may continue to do so as prominent features in non-climbing media become increasingly common. Despite this growth, the number of non-white competition climbers remains steadily below 5%. While there are cultural, social, and ethical reasons for actively engaging in programs to enhance minority representation in our sport, there are also practical ones. By approximately 2030, more than half of all new youth athletes will be non-white; thus, enhancing minority representation within the sport of climbing is also in our business interest. This session will explore the development and implementation of a minority engagement program in the Atlanta metropolitan area, some programmatic failures and successes, opportunities to collaborate, and how to do “it” yourselves.

Goals: Attendees will be able to:

  • Identify the differing definitions of “minority” “underrepresented” and “privileged”

  • Develop partnerships with community organizations to engage minority groups

  • Implement strategies to build resources to run programs for minority youth

  • Construct a program reflecting the successes and failures of the pilot RISE program



Speaker: Dan Ruch, Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics, The Front Climbing Club and Vertical Solutions

Conference Track: Management & Leadership

Description: You have hundreds of people consistently walking through your doors every day and interacting with your brand on a number of different levels and in a variety of ways. Who they are, what they like, what they do, and how often they do it, all formulates an important dataset that you should be harnessing to make informed decisions. This session will do a deep-dive into the types of information you should be monitoring and collecting, a few tools to record and store this data, and how to get started in your gym. Many small businesses would kill to have this type of volume on their data, and climbing gyms are in the perfect position to utilize this information and react to it quickly. This session is a must-attend for any smart business owner looking to increase operational efficiency.


 - To educate attendees on concepts surrounding data-driven decision making
 - To educate attendees on understanding what types of information you want to measure in your climbing gym membership
 - To educate attendees on tools and methods to measure your membership in a repeatable way
 - To educate attendees on analyzation techniques that inform decisions to increase your operational efficiencies

About Dan: After an education in biochemistry at Boston University, Dan headed west and started his career in various roles from analytical chemist, to distillery production manager, to Moab guide. A career switch into software engineering saw him becoming a database architect. At the Front Climbing Club and Vertical Solutions, Dan uses these skills along with his extensive analytical background to create ways to collect and analyze datasets, present it to stakeholders, and make better business decisions.



Facilitated by: Tiffany Paino, Training + Operations Coordinator, Vertical Endeavors

Conference Track: Management & Leadership

Description: This session is for managers and supervisors who oversee staff. Together we will identify factors in the climbing community that contribute to the unique work environments at climbing facilities and talk about how to establish objective parameters and policies to help prevent employee conflict. The goal will then be to learn and practice effective methods for facilitating conflict resolution with staff members while understanding the importance of timeliness and documentation when addressing conflict scenarios.

About Tiffany: Tiffany began climbing in 1996 and later began working at Vertical Endeavors teaching lessons and guiding groups outdoors. With a Youth Development Studies degree emphasizing Recreational Sports Management, Tiffany set off to work with alternative youth in support group settings and as an adjunct professor in Group Dynamics and Sociology. She returned to Vertical Endeavors in 2012 as an Assistant Facility Manager before helping to open their 44,000 ft2 location in Illinois as the Facility Manager. Since 2016, Tiffany has served as the Training + Operations Coordinator for all Vertical Endeavors locations.




Speakers: Aaron Larner, Co-founder, Climbalytics; Brandon McPhail, Operations Manager, Ascent Studio Climbing & Fitness

Conference Track: Management & Leadership

Description: Data has the power to transform the indoor climbing industry. Grocery stores carefully place products to maximize revenue. E-commerce sites custom tailor the shopping experience to individual customers. We believe that these same techniques also apply to your gym, allowing you to improve routesetting, marketing and ultimately better serve the climbers who enter your doors.

Climbalytics and Ascent Studio partnered to run a detailed three-month study of climber behavior to test this belief. Over the course of the test we collected climbing activity for each route in the gym, including attempts, sends, flashes, average time to complete, etc. We then tied activity data to individual climbers who volunteered for the study.

In this talk we'll discuss the methods we used to collect this data as well as the insights that we gained from running the test, spanning marketing, routesetting, and climber engagement.


 - Discuss the benefits of using a data-driven approach to gym management.
 - Share insights we learned from collecting a boat load of data in Ascent Studio.
 - Explain how a gym might run their own similar study.

About Aaron: Aaron Larner is co-founder and jack-of-all-trades at Climbalytics, developing a fitness tracker specifically designed for climbers. He is a Nutella addict, software developer and climber.

About Brandon: Brandon McPhail is co-founder and Operations Manager at Ascent Studio Climbing & Fitness, a full-service climbing gym in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado. He has two wrists, a smartphone, some software engineering experience, and boatloads of enthusiasm for testing prototypes for the Climbalytics team.



Speaker: Timothy Sarazen, Director of Operations, 97 Display

Conference Track: Management & Leadership

Description: This session will cover Internet Marketing through websites, lead generation & 2017-18 trends for the modern fitness gym. Part one will help you understand traffic sources, including clickfunnels, landing pages and websites - what you need, why you need it, how to use it. Part two will cover 5 mistakes that fitness businesses make that ruin their website's performance.

You'll Learn:
 - How to get more web visitors to TAKE ACTION on your website
 - What Google is looking for in fitness websites for 2018
 - Little mistakes that almost ALL fitness websites are making that kill conversion rates

About Timothy: Timothy Sarazen is the Director of Operations at 97 Display, a company that works with hundreds of fitness businesses on websites, SEO, and lead generation.



Speaker: Andy Laakman, Owner & Lead Developer, Rock Gym Pro

Conference Track: Management & Leadership

Description: In this session, Andy will give a demonstration of the latest Rock Gym Pro feature updates, including RGP Cloud - a new deployment option for a remotely hosted version of the software. With RGP Cloud your database and RGP information can now be hosted entirely on a secure and remote server that we maintain! Andy will explain why this is a big deal. You'll also learn how to easily keep track of waivers for specific group events with the the long-awaited Group Waiver Management feature. We'll also dive into the Improved Retail functions that have been added to RGP as well as preview the upcoming online store functionality. Time will be provided at the end of the session for open Q&A.

About Andy: Andy is the owner and lead developer of Rock Gym Pro. He has over 20+ years of software product development experience, and having launched RGP back in 2008, he is intimately familiar with the multiple challenges climbing gyms face in their day-to-day operations.


Speakers: David Kortje, Owner/Operator and Josiah Kortje, Marketing Director and Manger, Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex

Conference Track: Startups & Business Formation

Description: This session will offer Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex's narrative of  opening a climbing gym in a non-climbing market. They will cover topics such as financing and their unique use of an IRA option, their opening day with 130 people at the front door, their attempts to balance the needs of local climbers with the rest of the community. They will discuss their multiple attempts (many failed) at marketing as well as obtaining business coaching.


 - Offer a real world look at the challenges, triumphs, and learning opportunities of opening a climbing gym in a very non-climbing part of the country

 - Help attendees understand what they can do to prepare for the many issues that will likely come up as they embark on a similar journey, including financing challenges, creating balance between strong climbers and birthday party participants, and navigating legal and business regulations

About David: David is the owner and operator of Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex in Wichita, KA. His first experience with rock climbing was on a small college wall in 1993. He's been hooked ever since. Traveling the nation with his son Caleb attending USA Climbing competitions, he began to see the potential for a state-of-the-art gym in his home town of Wichita, KS. Obviously a very tough sell to lenders, he eventually obtained financing and Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex opened their doors in 2015.

About Josiah: Josiah is currently a student at Wichita State University majoring in business and marketing. His early climbing experience came from family vacations to Colorado and a local YMCA climbing wall. He has worked the last two years as Marketing Director and Manager at Bliss. Other passions in life include video production, mountain biking, long boarding, and cooking.



Speaker: Jake Crine, Owner, Übergrippen Indoor Climbing Crag

Conference Track: Startups & Business Formation

Description: Most aspiring climbing business owners have the ability to dream big but not to self-fund the entire business. As a result, you have to transition in some capacity from a consistent paycheck coming from "the man," to being self sufficient, and this can be the scariest time of your life. This talk will be about our journey, what we did to mentally prepare ourselves for entrepreneurship, and how you can position yourself to tackle your new business head-on with confidence. When starting a climbing facility, most assume that the only hurdles are tangible things like financial resources, finding a passionate underserved community, or learning about "black art" areas of business management. This session will address the intangibles such as having the drive and confidence to master FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). Cutting the life-support from your day-job isn't easy; this session will get you much more comfortable with the idea.


 - Tell a dreamer-to-doer story to other aspiring climbing facility entrepreneurs
 - Discuss the intangibles that come up when making the leap into entrepreneurship
 - Create confidence in the audience about tackling fear, uncertainty, and doubt head-on
 - Discuss the mental preparation associated with successfully opening a climbing gym business

About Jake: Founder and Crag Executive Owner of Übergrippen, Jake is a unique combination of mechanical engineer and entrepreneur that has a passion for small business development and most importantly: climbing. A lifelong learner that has 14+ years experience developing mechanical systems for spacecraft, Jake and his wife Kim hung up the daily grind in their successful careers and traded it in for their dream job as owner/operators of Denver's most authentic indoor climbing crag.



Speaker: Chris Stevenson, Stevenson Fitness

Conference Track: Management/Leadership

Description: In the highly competitive indoor rock climbing industry, member experience is the key to staying ahead of the competition.  A great experience leads to more referrals, better retention and an increase in revenue.  Learn how to understand your members’ needs and how to train your staff to not only meet, but also exceed those needs. This session is full of tangible tips and tools that you can implement immediately to create an unparalleled member experience in your facility.

About Robert: Chris Stevenson is the owner of Stevenson Fitness, a full-service health club in Oak Park, California. The club’s success is based on providing an unparalleled member experience, which centers on proper staffing, systematic operations, and world-class leadership.  This success is reflected in the club’s Net Promoter Score, which is consistently in the high 80s (industry average is in the 40s).  Chris is an international speaker who presents viable, applicable lectures that resonate with every audience.



Speaker: Robert Angell, Principal Attorney, Angell Law Offices

Conference Track: Finance & Legal

Description: For operators planning to open a facility and veterans needing to update their policies and procedures, this session will survey the common and uncommon legal issues that a gym operator may face in the course of business. Participant accidents, equipment failures, slips and falls, documentation issues, criminal and domestic matters, and regulatory issues in a rapidly growing industry all have the potential to affect your operation and your bottom line. The session will give you a legal/risk management checklist to help you stay between the lines. Also included will be a brief Q & A on the Ohio climbing facility statute that went into effect in March 2017.

About Robert: Robert Angell is the principal attorney at Angell Law Offices, LLC in Columbus, Ohio. His practice emphasizes administrative law and recreation law. Mr. Angell was a member of the CWA Board of Directors from 2006 to 2013 and Association counsel in 2014. He has been involved in regulatory matters on behalf of the indoor climbing industry across the country, and was the primary draftsman for the new Ohio climbing facility statute in 2015.


Speaker: Bob Richards, Climbing Wall Advisors

Conference Track: Finance & Legal

Description: This session will review and discuss the decision criteria for leasing or owning real estate and then explore how real estate can be used to provide funding for business expansion into new gym locations.



 - Understand decision criteria for leasing versus purchasing real estate for gym expansion
 - Learn how real estate can create financing opportunities for gym expansion
 - Create understanding of potential structures for real estate/gym developments

About Bob: As founding principle of Climbing Wall Advisors, Bob Richards has provided strategic planning, development and risk management services to the climbing wall industry since 2004, assisting gym owners in planning, developing and opening facilities. Mr. Richards founded Rockreation Sport Climbing Centers in 1991 and managed the expansion of the company in Utah, California and Nevada, selling his interest in 2004. In 2003 Mr. Richards founded the Climbing Wall Association and served as a board member through 2011. He is a regular presenter at CWA conferences. Prior to his work in the climbing wall industry Mr. Richards was an executive with various global consumer packaged goods companies. He also worked as a CPA and consultant with the international accounting firm, Ernst & Whinney. He also holds a Certified Global Management Accountant designation.  



Speaker: Jason Pill, Attorney, Phelps Dunbar LLP

Conference Track: Finance & Legal

Description: Hardly a day goes by without headlines of new sexual harassment claims that bring ignominy to the accused individuals and the companies employing them. This risk is compounded by the burgeoning number of employment discrimination claims that are being filed against companies of all sizes, including climbing gyms.

Many climbing gyms have not been hit with employment discrimination litigation and incorrectly assume they are immune to such issues based on their size, employee base, or merely some bad advice that they received. This assumption, however, is simply incorrect. Employment discrimination and harassment litigation is increasing nationally and can result in staggering legal costs, reduced employee morale, loss of business reputation, and a host of other significant consequences for private employers.

Despite these issues, most instances of discrimination and harassment can be eliminated with proper training and policies and, most importantly, a fundamental understanding of the anti-discrimination laws in place. This presentation will cover these issues and provide helpful guidance that can be applied to any gym.

About Jason: In addition to climbing for the past 15 years and previously managing a climbing gym, Jason Pill is a partner with the law firm of Phelps Dunbar, LLP in Tampa, Florida. Jason practices in the area of labor and employment and assists clients in handling unique issues that arise at the intersection of law and technology. He represents employers regarding claims involving employment discrimination laws, wage and hour laws, medical leave laws, enforcement of non-competition agreements, customer complaints, and various employment-related torts. He prepares employment contracts, employee handbooks, and assists clients in implementing and managing technology in the workplace. He regularly appears in state and federal courts across the country to represent a broad range of employers in the financial services, energy, retail, hospitality, health care, transportation, construction, engineering, and manufacturing industries.



Speaker: Mark Seiger, Seiger Gfeller Laurie LLP and Lance Pinn, Brooklyn Boulders

Conference Track: Finance & Legal

Description: Climbing is inherently dangerous. Your guests might not understand what that means, no matter what efforts you've taken to demonstrate the risks to them. In this session you will learn what really works to get the point across to your guests as well as what will prevent your facility from being unreasonably targeted by claimants.



  • Showcase Best Practices from around the industry

  • Demonstrate Key Differences in Signage Language and Imagery that impact liability

  • Review Waiver/Release Language that serves to reduce or eliminate risk of claims

About Mark and Lance: Mark specializes in risk management and has worked over the past several decades to mitigate potential liability for a variety of companies in multiple industries (most applicably for Vail resorts). Forever leading the way with an ear to the ground and an eye on the horizon, Lance Pinn is no stranger to innovation, design and a terribly witty sense of humor. As co-founder and President of Brooklyn Boulders, Lance effectively utilizes the tools acquired from his entrepreneurial studies at Babson College to seamlessly marry the worlds of sleek aesthetics and gritty construction. Drawing on years of experience in product development, fabrication, and design, Lance now divides his time between BKB’s Denver HQ and NYC office, while simultaneously touring current facilities and new facility locations. Passionate about providing “Climbing Access to All” Lance founded the Brooklyn Boulders Foundation, in 2010. He is also active with Friends of Thomas Greene Park, Adaptive Climbing Group, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Outdoor Industry Association, Harambe Entrepreneurial Alliance, and the City Rocks Mentorship Program. A big believer in conservation and human rights, Lance supports the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, Human Rights Campaign, and the Outdoor Alliance.



Speaker: Matt Roberts, Partner, Vertical Adventures

Conference Track: Startups & Business Formation

Description: Debt financing is used in the construction of nearly all climbing gyms. But for first-time applicants, understanding the process and the policies can be a nightmare. Dr. Roberts sits on the Board and loan committee of a community bank in Ohio, and reviews applications on a weekly basis. In this session, we'll go over the types of loans available for gyms, who might make them, and what criteria are used to make the loans. We'll discuss how banks score applications and red (and green) flags for applicants.


 - Understand the types of loans available to climbing gyms
 - Understand the factors used to evaluate loan applications
 - Improve the quality of your loan application to increase your chances of success

About Matt: Dr. Matt Roberts is an economics consultant and speaker and also a Board Member and Loan Committee member of Sutton Bank, a $500m community bank located in North Central Ohio. Dr. Roberts is also a partner in Vertical Adventures of Columbus, OH.



Speaker: Elyse Rylander, Executive Director, OUT There Adventures

Conference Track: Program Management

Description: In this session participants will begin the conversation around authentic systemic equity and allyship utilizing OUT There Adventures' "Equity Mountain" framework. Through this lens we will analyze current industry practices and cultural ideologies surrounding the idea of partnerships and internships and establish new working definitions for each as a means of creating a path to more equitable industry opportunities.

Participants will walk away with: 
 - A basic understanding of the concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural competence
 - OTA's definition of authentic allyship as it pertains to community partnerships and internship programs 
 - Tools and resources to begin building bridges between their gyms or climbing programs and potential community partners

About Elyse: Elyse holds a B.A. in Communication Arts, Gender Studies, and LGBT Studies from the University of Wisconsin. She is also a Master of Arts in Adventure Education candidate at Prescott College. Elyse has been an outdoor educator and guide since 2006 and has taken thousands of youth and adults on outdoor adventures across the Midwest, West Coast and Alaska. Elyse founded and currently runs OUT There Adventures and is the co-organizer of the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit.



Speaker: Hilary Harris, Founder & Owner, EVO Rock + Fitness

Conference Track: Program Management

Description: Do you want to learn how to make money for your gym and raise money to protect our crags at the same time? In this session EVO Rock + Fitness will share with you how we dedicated a month to raising money and awareness for the Access Fund. Not only were we able to raise more than $5K, we discovered that our gym community was more than ready to engage. Each week we hosted clinics, movies, and events that benefited Access Fund, with a blowout party at the end, tied into a successful membership drive - gaining 50 new members in one day.


 - Learn how to increase gym membership, build community and simultaneously raise money for non-profit groups

 - Learn how to use the power of your gym as "the gateway drug" to climbing to mitigate the impact climbers have as the sport becomes more mainstream

About Hilary: Founder and CEO of EVO Rock + Fitness, Hilary is responsible for directing the overall vision, brand and strategy for company growth and development. An architect, retired professional climber and coach for more than 25 years, Hilary has a unique skill set in building design and development as well as climbing gym business planning and project execution. Hilary has been intimately involved in the start-up, ownership and operations of all EVO gyms.



Speaker: Nicole Brandt, Program Director, Momentum Indoor Climbing

Conference Track: Program Mangement

Description: Are you considering building a Youth Program at your climbing gym? This session examines the challenges and benefits of running youth programming for all age/ability levels in a facility. It looks at staffing, program structure, youth policy, facility challenges, how youth interact with members and ultimately why to run a Youth Program.

This session includes how to create youth programming and policy, and also discusses support tools for program development and for staff training. There is also discussion on the challenge of maintaining balance between gym members and youth climbers. 
Current youth generations are the climbers and gym members of the future. This 75 minute session will help guide new program developers and gym operators in confidently and systematically sharing their passion for climbing  through carefully developed youth programming.


 - Look at youth programming structure: how to organize programs, ages, levels

 - Discuss the challenges of youth policy: belaying, leading, codes of conduct, staffing, member perceptions

About Nicole: In 2012, Nicole started as Momentum's Director of Summer Camps. In 2013, she moved into the greater role of Youth Program Director. Since that time, she has elevated Momentum's Youth Program to a new level, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive in the nation. Currently there are 650 kids ages 3- 18 enrolled in the Momentum's Utah Region, and over 100 already enrolled in Momentum's brand new gyms in Texas. Nicole most recently has taken on the role of Program Director with Momentum and is now overseeing all Youth programming and Member programming.

With a background in Outdoor Recreation, Nicole describes being Momentum's Program Director as her dream job. She has been in facilitation roles since her first job on a ropes course at age twelve. She has also held roles as a summer camp counselor, high ropes course director, trip manager and corporate team building facilitator.



Speaker: Steve Bechtel, Founder, Climb Strong

Conference Track: Coaching & Training

Description: Program design helps athletes map out training strategies for continued performance. From daily to weekly to monthly to yearly planning, we'll explore training programs for climbing that address both the needs of individuals and groups. We'll cover the benefits and pitfalls of long-term planning, and we'll look carefully at how prescriptive programs really need to be. This session will also cover when and hoW to assess progress, and how to balance training with trying to perform well on the rock.

Goals: Session attendees can expect to create a long-term view of their training programs, and learn to break these programs down into effective training phases. They will learn how to implement necessary recovery periods, and will see how planned training functions in the real world.

About Steve: Steve is the founder of Climb Strong. A climber for more than 30 years, Steve has established over 350 new routes across the globe, from grade VI big wall free climbs to single pitch routes on his home crags near Lander, Wyoming. An exercise science graduate of the University of Wyoming, Steve has been studying and experimenting with climbing training methods since his teens. After spending a few years as a full-time climber, Steve opened Elemental Performance + Fitness in 2002. Elemental is a full-service gym in Lander, but was built around the training needs of high-level climbers.



Speaker: Chi Harris, Assistant Coach, Multnomah Athletic Club

Conference Track: Coaching & Training

Description: This session on speed climbing will primarily focus on teaching how to coach beginning and intermediate speed climbing athletes, and will touch on advanced techniques to try with more experienced speed climbing athletes. We will start by talking about the basic fundamentals and etiquettes of speed climbing and move on to discuss different techniques specifically targeted at Youth C/D climbers, Youth B/A/JR Females, and Youth B/A/JR Males. Video review and photos will be used to demonstrate the various techniques. The end of the session will be reserved to answer questions and talk more in-depth about any speed climbing beta.


 - Give coaches the tools to start coaching their athletes in speed climbing
 - Give coaches techniques to help improve their speed climbers' times
 - Communicate Speed Climbing Etiquette
 - Display Speed Beta for C/D Climbers
 - Display Speed Beta for B/A/JR Females
 - Display Speed Beta for B/A/JR Males

About Chi: Chi Harris is an Assistant Coach for the MAC Climbing Team, based in Portland, OR. He has coached athletes for six years in all three disciplines of climbing, and has helped send numerous athletes to USAC Nationals and IFSC events. Chi has been climbing for 13 years - both competitively and recreationally - and continues to compete in Open competitions in the Pacific Northwest. His favorite places to climb are Maple Canyon and Ten Sleep



Speaker: Jillian Yatsko, Adaptive Team Coach, Mesa Rim

Conference Track: Coaching & Training

Description: With climbing gyms becoming more cognizant of creating an inclusive culture, the adaptive climbing movement is on the rise. This workshop is intended for gym staff/owners/managers who are interested in starting adaptive programming and want to learn about the real life application of adaptive sports theory. Attendees will learn how to coach adaptive athletes including making training plans that can be altered to include all different levels and abilities of climbers as well metrics that can help track progress. We will do hands-on exercises to practice real life situations that happen in climbing gyms and how to negotiate obstacles with adaptive climbers. We will also have prosthetics available for attendees to learn about including general limb prosthetics as well as climbing-specific prosthetics. Attendees will also learn adaptive rigging to ensure each climber is using proper gear. The goal is to have attendees return to their gyms and be able to train their staff on these lessons.


 - Learn how to coach adaptive climbers
 - Gain hands on experience using adaptive equipment
 - Learn about climbing-specific and general prosthetics

About Jillian: Jillian started an adaptive climbing program at Mesa Rim Climbing Center in early 2013. Shortly after the program started she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and began competing in Adaptive Climbing Competitions alongside the Mesa Rim Team. Since then they have expanded their program to include a competitive team, a veteran branch, autism and cognitive disorder branch.



Speaker: Jared Vagy, The Climbing Doctor

Conference Track: Coaching & Training

Description: Learn how to prevent and rehabilitate the most common climbing finger injury. Go from pain, inflammation and tissue overload to gaining full mobility, strength and eventually pain-free climbing movement. Bring these skills back to your gym to help your members climb injury-free and push their limits.

 - Learn how to prevent and rehabilitate a pulley sprain
 - Understand how to unload muscles and tendons with taping
 - Learn stretching and strengthening exercises to perform
 - Improve climbing movement to reduce injury risk
 - Learn the sets and reps of each exercise, and how often
 - Know when to advance to next stage

About Jared: Dr. Jared Vagy is a climber and doctor of physical therapy (DPT). He is also a professor at the University of Southern California, the number-one-ranked physical therapy program in the country. He lectures internationally on the topic of preventing climbing injury. Dr. Jared Vagy has published numerous articles as well as two books on the topic. His most recent book, "Climb Injury-Free" is an Amazon #1 best seller in the rock climbing category.

As a DPT in clinical practice, he has completed an additional one-year residency program in orthopedics and a one-year fellowship program in movement science, totaling 9 years of concentrated study. He is a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.



Speaker: Heather Reynolds, Climbing Consultant

Conference Track: Coaching & Training

Description: This presentation will review the physiological and mental strategies and techniques that coaches can use as tools to expand performance potential. Through this overview, examples of how these elements are interrelated and must be integrated to prevent injury and to encourage a healthy approach to climbing. Bringing awareness to the value of developing a language and approach to improving movement patterns will improve the professionalism of coaching strategies for climbing athletes and recreational climbers alike.

About Heather: Heather Reynolds, author of Climbing Your Best, has been pursuing her passion to understand climbing movement and to share what she understands since 1997. As a kinesiologist, author, instructor, climbing coach, and program coordinator, Heather continues to explore what makes someone a great climber. Heather further attempts to share this understanding in ways that enable beginners and advanced climbers to continue to progress and to return to climbing post-injury.



Speaker: Jeff Jackson, Professor and Coordinator, Algonquin College Outdoor Adventure Guide Diploma Program

Conference Track: Management & Leadership

Description: How do we train staff fast? Emergent findings in social psychology and cognition point to the limitations in the way we learn and perform in safety-critical situations. Training, it turns out, is highly over-rated. This session challenges our long-standing assumptions and training methods, and provides research-based alternatives proven to build the skills we need to see in less time.



 - Provide alternative model of safety performance and safety training that focuses on coping skills at the boundaries
 - Provide training approaches that build competency fast

About Jeff: Jeff Jackson, Ph.D., is a Professor and Coordinator of Canada's Algonquin College Outdoor Adventure Guide diploma program. His research on safety performance has helped outdoor organizations re-think their training priorities and practices. Jeff is an award-winning educator who has been invited to speak around the world on safety culture, risk management, and instructor performance. He has provided expert opinion in legal cases and consults with outdoor oriented insurance providers and municipalities. He is co-author of Managing Risk, an outdoor program-based risk management text, widely adopted by Canadian and American college outdoor programs.



Moderator: James Lucas, Associate Editor, Climbing Magazine

Panelists: Jackie Hueftle, Alex Alchin, Ward Byrum, Jeff Pedersen, Chris Danielson, Mike Bockino

Conference Track: Routesetting

Description: As routesetting becomes more professionalized as a career and discipline, questions have arisen around managing routesetting programs to keep a diverse set of users happy, challenged, and coming back for more. This panel will discuss the differences between commercial and competition setting and how these conflicting styles have played out in their facilities. The needs of major user groups will be defined, and the panel will offer strategies for meeting those needs within your facility.


 - Provide a short discussion of the goals of and differences between competition and commercial setting

 - Define the major climbing gym user groups and their needs in terms of setting styles

 - Discuss how differing routesetting priorities have played out in the commercial setting and the impact on gym members, competition climbers and routesetters

 - Discuss the financial impact of youth programs and competitions on commercial gyms

 - Offer strategies for routesetters to balance the needs of all their user groups

 - Discuss climber feedback, how to make it constructive, and possible impacts on setter morale



Speaker: Tonde Katiyo, Director of Routesetting, Bouldering Project

Conference Track: Routesetting

Description: By listing route setting tasks, Tonde will identify and describe key aspects of the work, provide his vision on the state of the industry and provide suggestions as to how and why we should improve on them. Topics include safety, setting methodology, movement diversity, presentation of the climbing product, circuits, hard boulders and why they matter, athletic empathy, the Risk Intensity Complexity scale. Tonde will put all these points in the perspective of what the future of our sport looks like and discuss with all present how to prepare today the skills and regulations for tomorrow's climbing gyms and culture.

About Tonde: Half French and half Zimbabwean, Tonde Katiyo has set many climbs in many countries. He really loves routesetting and has applied his experience in design to shape his setting process. Lately, he has also taken on professionalizing routesetting by giving courses geared towards sustaining creativity and empathy in commercial setting and fairness and diversity in comp setting. He is a setting coordinator for the IFSC's World Climbing initiative and the Director of Routesetting for Bouldering Project. He lives in Seattle with his wife and 1 and a half kids.



Speaker: Nick Foster, Director of Setting, EVO Rock + Fitness

Conference Track: Routesetting

Description: If you're a gym owner, manager, head setter, prospective setter, or part-time setter, this session will serve as an eye-opening experience. Come hear about current trends and concerns of this industry from the perspective of setters. As companies grow and gyms continue to pop up, it's more important now than ever to ask: what are gyms doing to retain their setting talent and provide opportunity?

This session is intended to bring attention to what the climbing industry is doing (and not doing) for setters. We will discuss the hurdles and hoops that the industry faces, setting as a career, and what we can do to make it a more viable and financially sustainable career path.

About Nick: Originally from Portland, ME, Nick Foster has set for gyms across the USA in both commercial and competitive pursuits. Last year, he moved to Louisville, Colorado, to take the position as Head Setter for EVO Rock + Fitness. His goal has been (and continues to be) the implementation of a setting style that's both creative and explorative for the customer base. He encourages the setters he teaches to think outside the proverbial box, to be unique, and push the climbing industry forward.



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Boulder, CO 80301




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