North Texas Daily

Fitness junkies and rookies scale new heights at Summit Climbing

Fitness junkies and rookies scale new heights at Summit Climbing

Johnny Willbanks a human development and family studies junior reaches for his next hand placing while climbing a wall at Summit. Summit is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Cameron Roe

Fitness junkies and rookies scale new heights at Summit Climbing
September 08
21:28 2017

Both brawn and brains are flexed as students carefully grasp onto the rainbow holds and scale the wall. Biology senior Ross Nelson and human development and studies junior Johnny Willbanks are just two of the employees on the clock as they watch eager climbers make their way up the multicolored walls.

For some, the superior workout is climbingspecifically bouldering. The Summit climbing location in Denton has become a popular bouldering gym for those who yearn to scale new heights. It offers a student discount and employs those who are passionate about the sport of bouldering and climbing while giving them an opportunity to try the old and learn the new.

Nelson became interested in climbing when he enrolled as a UNT student and joined the climbing team.

“I didn’t know about the Summit [franchise] for the first year that I was climbing,” Nelson said. “I started at UNT, and I really fell in love with climbing. Then summer break happened, so I started climbing at a climbing gym in Grapevine.”

Initially, Nelson started climbing to lose weight and get back into shape. His love for the sport grew more and more until it blossomed into a brand new lifestyle.

Nelson started working at Summit when it opened in November 2015.

“[There’s this] mental thing of coming in and working on something that you don’t think you’re going to be able to do until you finally get it,” Nelson said. “Overcoming that is the most heart-pumping and dopamine-releasing thing that I could ever think of.”

Willbanks has been working at Summit for five months after attempting to earn the position for two years. Willbanks excels in bouldering and earned 79th place out of 200 competitors during nationals this past year.

“Anybody can do it,” Willbanks said. “I went to the gym for a long time and wasn’t really gaining any strength or any self improvement, but here I was having fun with the community. It’s a good social atmosphere, and everybody is really encouraging.”

Willbanks and Nelson said the staff at Denton Summit is different than a staff at a regular gym.

While Nelson and Willbanks are the most advanced climbers in the room, they still fall off once or twice. However, the cushioned mats below catch them on their way down. They climb and learn with beginners instead of monitoring them.

The active climbers of Summit are mostly UNT students who take advantage of the student discounts offered, including computer science junior Steven Harris.

“At first it was something to be active, then it became a place of friendship where you could meet new people with a great sense of community,” Harris said. “Everyone is so wonderful and enjoyable to hang out with.”

Harris said because he is in computer science, he is more inclined to look for codes and patterns to fix problems. With climbing, he feels the problem has been laid out into a physical form that provides a new perspective.

“It’s a challenge to your brain, so it always tests your skills and abilities and seems to help with problem solving,” Harris said.

When climbers walk into Denton Summit, general manager Adam Hughes can usually be found standing at the front desk of the establishment, joking with his staff and greeting everyone with a smile.

Hughes has been climbing for 13 years and was exposed to repelling for training during his service in the Air Force. Hughes joined in 2002 and, with his qualifications, started working as a physical therapist.

“I was in the military, and we did some technical rope work,” Hughes said. “When I got out, my brother and I got a bunch of gear and decided we would just teach ourselves.”

Hughes and his brother were highly involved in climbing. They traveled to sites like Mineral Wells, Mount Whitney, El Paso and various places in Colorado. Their most recent trip was to Yosemite National Park.

Hughes and his brother climbed at Dallas Rocks before it was bought by Summit.

“I started working as a physical therapist and looked forward to climbing at the facility in Dallas on weekends,” Hughes said. “I asked them if they had any openings for positions [on] weekends.”

Hughes eventually became the assistant manager of the Dallas Summit. After he heard of the opening of a Denton location, he told upper management he was interested and eventually interviewed for the position.

Hughes said physical therapy has helped him in his climbing career.

“With climbing, some people think you’re going to come in here and climb over and over and that’s how you’re going to develop,” Hughes said. “Through knowing there’s training and knowing how the body operates, you know there’s a lot of other things you can add to the workout that will make you a better climber.”

Featured Image: Human development and family studies junior Johnny Willbanks reaches for his next hand placing while climbing a wall at Summit. Summit is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Cameron Roe

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Anna Orr

Anna Orr

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1 Comment

  1. yiaya
    yiaya September 11, 16:50

    Great, great article, makes me want to try it. It looks and sounds like a lot of fun.

    Reply to this comment

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