Hundreds Gather for One of Area’s Largest Indoor Rock Climbing Competition
Upper Limits in Maryland Heights will host the Midwest USA Climbing Bouldering Youth Regional Championship on December 10, 2016. Now the area’s largest indoor rock climbing competition, this event will bring more than 150 competitive youth climbers plus families and fans from 7+ states to the St. Louis area to determine which climbers qualify to advance to divisionals, then nationals and finally who will represent Team USA in the world competition.
Rock Climbing is Growing in Popularity – Now an Olympic Sport
Rock climbing has become so popular it recently became the newest Olympic sport to debut at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan, and the Climbing Business Journal now counts 436 gyms in North America and growing. An older generation of largely self-taught climbers has given way to climbing gym birthday parties like those at Upper Limits, where vast numbers of kids have the chance to try climbing long before the age of 10. Children can now join the thousands of youth team competitors that climb in nearly 200 annual climbing competitions nationwide. The Upper Limits competitive youth climbing team features more than 100 members ages 7 to 18 and growing, including several nationally ranked members such as Julia (2nd, 15-16’ USAC Bouldering Youth National Championship) and Julia (9th, 14-15’ USAC Sport & Speed Youth National Championship).
“Rock climbing is more than a full-body exercise, it also is a powerful way to boost a child’s confidence, independence and mental development,” said Chris Schmick, owner of Upper Limits. “The first time a child reaches the top of the wall, they realize that they’re capable of doing anything they work towards, even if it looks big and scary at first!”
Youth Rock Climbing on the Rise
If the testimonials don’t speak for themselves, the statistics reveal the truth that youth climbing is indeed growing in popularity at rates never seen before. USA Climbing reports that participation in the Bouldering Regional Championships grew by 22% year-over-year. That is faster than the growth rate of climbing gyms, which shows more teams being created and existing teams only growing larger in size. Mike De La Paz, USAC Midwest Regional Coordinator and father of nationally ranked Upper Limits climber Julia, said, “The (Upper Limits) Regionals Competition is going to be big, so we need all the help we can get!”
For the championship event, spectators are free. For anyone wishing to experience first-hand the competitive rock climbing environment, nearly 100 volunteers are needed to help execute the championship event and orientation is provided for those without experience. Upper Limits will also provide free climbing passes and food for volunteers.
The company just opened its third location in the St. Louis area, in Chesterfield. “It allows us to capitalize on the growing popularity of youth rock climbing and indoor climbing gyms specifically,” added Schmick. The colorful new facility caters to experienced and novice climbers as well as families with children of all ages by featuring over 10,000 square feet of climbing space, including 7,000 square feet of bouldering, and the Midwest’s first Wacky Walls section with children’s themed climbing areas. This location will soon be hosting its own division of the Upper Limits youth rock climbing team as well.
ABOUT UPPER LIMITS
In operation since 1992, Upper Limits Rock Gym brings 51,000 square feet of premiere climbing space to the Midwest. With three area locations in Downtown St. Louis, Maryland Heights and its newest facility in Chesterfield, Upper Limits caters to the advanced climber as well as beginners, children and entire families. Upper Limits Indoor Climbing Gyms feature state-of-the-art climbing walls and boulders, mental and physical fitness opportunities, classes for all levels and ages, conditioning equipment, birthday party rooms, social lounges and more. This year, Smithsonian Magazine named Upper Limit’s fourth facility, built within an abandoned grain silo in Bloomington, Illinois, one of the most innovative fitness facilities in the world.