by Maya Jaffe /
Momentum Sandy has reached its 10 year anniversary, Millcreek is going on 3 years, and Lehi is rapidly approaching its 2nd birthday. Over the past decade, we’ve had many loyal members and lots of wonderful visitors come and go. This article highlights the member from each gym with the most check-ins. These three individuals may utilize the gym and its training facilities differently, but they all agree that the warm community is what keeps bringing them back.
Sandy: Michael Finger / 958 check-ins
Michael Finger is a father, director of software development, volunteer for the Wasatch Search and Rescue team, and a dedicated climber. Michael began climbing in 1997 as a college student in Austin, TX amongst locals like Rock and Ice editor Jeff Jackson. Michael’s disciplines as a climber are vast, but he has the most fun on long days out in the mountains. In the beginning of his climbing tenure, he would climb moderate traditional routes, then eventually moved to sport climbing in Maple Canyon and American Fork. Today, his focus has shifted again– this time to bouldering. With family life and convenient hours, Michael likes bouldering at the gym because, “I can get a good workout in and get something done. If you try to do routes for 1 or 2 hours you warm up and can only get 1 or 2 routes in before you need to leave.”
Michael juggles his affinity for the outdoors and training with a full time job and kids by coming into Momentum Sandy, the closest location to his home. Sometimes, Michael jokes, “I haul them in here and let them run around and torment Kevin [Sandy’s Manager]”. He also utilizes Momentum’s extended hours, coming in for a bouldering session once the kids are asleep.
Not only identifying himself as a climber, Michael is a cyclist and runner as well. “It’s good to keep yourself motivated and to have seasons with sports. If you do the same thing month in month out you can get burned out,” Michael explains. Living in Salt Lake, it’s possible to juggle mountain biking, skiing, trail running, and climbing with their seasonalities. Furthermore, Michael believes that changing focus seasonally helps to bust through plateaus rather than climbing hard day in and day out.
When he’s not pursuing his outdoor passions in the Wasatch, Michael is active in Search and Rescue and has helped a range of novice to expert climbers escape the mountains to safety. “I think everybody should be involved whether it’s trail building or cleaning, or even contributing to the Access Fund.” Michael shows how giving back to the community is just as crucial to climbing’s fulfillment as sending your project.
Michael loves to climb and defines success in the sport as “ow much fun you can have going out with friends. Having a good time. It’s always good to have progression but if you’re pushing yourself at V4 it’s really no different than climbing V16.” Seeing Michael climb at the gym, it’s immediately clear he lives by this credo He trains and climbs at Sandy with a like-minded community that has been frequenting the gym for years together.
Between work, volunteering, kids, and other sports, making the time to climb can seem overwhelming, but Michael still holds the record for the most check-ins at Sandy proving ever more that, “You can always make time. If you really want to do something, you’ll make it happen. If I don’t do this now I’ll just be on the couch surfing the internet and I’d rather be doing this.” Thanks for the perspective, and all you do for this community, Michael!
Millcreek: Mike Bogart / 738 check-ins
Like clockwork, around 7:00am every weekday, Mike Bogart greets the Millcreek desk staff with a beaming smile before meeting his partner for his daily climbing session. Mike may have the most check-ins at the gym today, but his impressive climbing resume is full of outdoor adventures as well.
Mike began climbing in the 1970s, and was taught to climb by Harold Goodro. “In fact,” Mike says, “I got him his job at The University of Utah because they wouldn’t take me! Harold taught me to climb and I got him a job so it was tit for tat.”
As a Salt Lake climber, Mike climbed all over Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Mike was hired by the LDS church to roll rocks off the vault peak onto the road because the parking lot was experiencing rock falls. “They were looking to pay climbers twenty dollars an hour to climb on the church buttress!” Mike animatedly recalls, because the area is generally off limits to climbers it’s one if not the only time climbers were permitted to ascend the pure crack lines on this designated holy site.
Mike continued to climb as he worked as guide for the Iowa Mountaineers. The club is now defunct, but at the time, it was one of the most active mountaineering clubs in the world. During his tenure, Mike ascended Nevado Huascaran (22,220 feet), Peru’s highest peak.
Mike recalls the days of body belays, goldline ropes, army surplus steel carabiners, and white webbing being the only color option. Climbing gear consisted of pitons and hammers, and knowledge was disseminated through word of mouth. Mike has climbed with some of history’s best climbers; Yvon Chouinard and Mike climbed the NW couloir of the middle Teton, and he even climbed with Warren Harding, affectionately nicknaming him “the construction worker” due to his masterful but abundant piton placements.
Mike took a 25 year hiatus from climbing when he had children and began to work as a management consultant, but explains how climbing helped him to make decisions in the work environment. “When facing a challenge at work it was just like route finding, sometimes you have to traverse or even downclimb to ultimately figure out the best way up.”
When his son expressed interest in joining the gym and needed a partner, Mike returned to climbing OR the vertical world. “He didn’t even know I knew how to climb,” Mike says. “He asked me, Dad do you know anything about climbing? It was just a word for him that I was a ‘climber’. We struck a deal that I would climb with him indoors if he would climb with me outdoors, and we’ve both been keeping our ends of the bargain!”
At first Mike looked “down [his] nose at indoor climbing,” but after giving it a shot, “[he] had a lot of fun!” Mike loves the social aspect of the gym, claiming the people are why he keeps coming back. Reflecting on the changes he has seen in the sport over time Mike jokes, “I’ve noticed climbing now has become segmented: there’s the speed wall, bouldering, top roping, and lead climbing, and I like to climb in all of those, but there seems to be snobbery developing in each faction – my son is a ‘boulderer’ but to me it’s all just climbing. Climbing is just going up. If you get to the top, you win. If the lightening doesn’t get you, or the avalanche doesn’t get you, or the temperatures don’t get you… you win.”
Climbing specialties and jokes aside, Mike marvels at the climbing gym social structure because there are no age divisions in climbing, “You have children and the high school crowd mingling amongst the old crowd and hard climber crowd – everyone’s hanging out together, sussing out the same beta.” Mike still loves to climb outdoors, but it’s always a treat seeing Mike in the gym. “I was a dirtbag climber before, and now I’m a returning dirtbag!” Welcome back, Mike.
Lehi: David Shuey / 329 check-ins
David began climbing in 2006, spending most of his time in the gym with the occasional outdoor venture. At only 16 years old, David saw his climbing progress, but because he climbed so sporadically, never saw any real gains. David toyed with the idea of a gym membership, but between being newly married and work, his training faltered.
David and his wife, Alexandria, moved to Lehi just before the new Momentum location opened, and when he saw a Facebook call for volunteers to help instal pads, after hours of jigsaw like puzzle piece mat placements, he was given some free passes to the new gym. David enjoyed himself so much this parlayed into a membership, and once coupled with a goal to run a half marathon, David began to come into the gym everyday. “I only live a half mile away and wanted to get in shape,” David explains, and losing roughly 75 pounds (“I did all of that here!”) and working his way up the bouldering grades it is easy to track his incredible success.
David is a nurse and works the graveyard shift, 6:00-6:00. He wakes up around 2:00 and comes directly to Momentum, applying a strict weekly training regimen incorporating cardio, endurance, and power. Everyone at Momentum Lehi knows David because his psych and energy is contagious. If you’re ever at Lehi on a late afternoon, be sure to say hi!