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Episode 98: Southland Elementary Student Climbs to the Top in USA National Bouldering Competition

A Southland Elementary student is literally climbing his way to the top in a sport that is making its debut in the Summer Olympic games right now. We’re talking about Sport Climbing.

On this episode of the Supercast, we catch up with Landers Gaydosh inside the Momentum Indoor Climbing gym. Landers demonstrates some of his Sport Climbing skills and tells us about the recent USA Climbing Youth National competition where, at just 11-years-old, he finished 2nd in Bouldering and 3rd in Top Ropes. Landon is already beating out some of the best in the United States.


Audio Transcription

Anthony Godfrey:
Hello and welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host, Superintendent Anthony Godfrey. A Southland Elementary student is literally climbing his way to the top in a sport that is making its debut in the summer Olympic games right now. We're talking about sport climbing. On this episode of the Supercast, we catch up with Landers Gaydosh inside the Momentum Indoor Climbing Gym. Landers demonstrates some of his sport climbing skills and tells us about the recent USA Climbing Youth National Competition, where at just 11 years old, he finished 2nd in Bouldering and 3rd in Top Ropes.

Anthony Godfrey:
We are here with Jonathan and Landers Gaydosh to talk with Landers about his climbing. But first let's talk to your dad. Jonathan, you teach at Herriman High School.

Jonathan Gaydosh:
Yes, sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about that.

Jonathan Gaydosh:
I teach Resource at Herriman High School, co-teach an Algebra II / Trig class, and I had to teach a Personal Finance class. It has been an absolute joy to be honest. The first time I've really enjoyed teaching was when we landed in Utah and I 100% feel like we have the greatest Special Education team in the world there, because we truly are a team.  I feel like our Administration is just 100% supportive of the faculty and staff and the children. It's been a blast. I've really enjoyed the last three years and am looking forward to number four.

Anthony Godfrey:
That's great. I'm really thrilled to hear that. Now, you guys came from North Carolina?

Jonathan Gaydosh:
Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Anthony Godfrey:
Transylvania county, if I'm not mistaken,

Jonathan Gaydosh:
Transylvania county, a small town called Brevard, North Carolina, just south of Asheville.  We moved from a little tiny pond to a big pond.

Anthony Godfrey:
And your wife taught me how to say Appalachia properly.

Jonathan Gaydosh:
Yeah, yeah. Appalachia, that's right. The Appalachian mountains.

Anthony Godfrey:
Your wife April works in the District Administration, and so we're really glad to have your family as part of Jordan School District, and to bring that perspective from North Carolina.

Jonathan Gaydosh:
We enjoy being here. Utah has been a blessing for our family, just from the job perspective and then meeting new friends and people and getting to see the world.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now you strike me as an outdoorsman and Utah must be a nice place to be into camping and that sort of thing.

Jonathan Gaydosh:
Oh yeah. There's a saying, especially in the climbing world, that climbers don't die and go to heaven, they die and go to Utah. This is the perfect place for that, and we also love to fly fish and it's a phenomenal state for fly fishing as well.

Anthony Godfrey:
You were a climber when you were a kid a little bit, right?

Jonathan Gaydosh:
Yeah, I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and believe it or not, there's quite a pretty good climbing scene in that area. I grew up climbing at a place called Horse Pens 40, which is a very unique kind of rock with very unique features. Believe it or not, rock does have different textures and features from the granite here in the Wasatch to the granite in the Yosemite. It's very different.  I grew up fortunate to be able to be outside and climb, but I was not very good.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now Landers is carrying the tradition on. Landers, thanks for talking with me. Now, tell me what grade you're in and where you go to school.

Landers:
I'm going into 6th grade and I go to Southland Elementary.

Anthony Godfrey:
How do you like it here compared with North Carolina? Probably miss your friends a lot.

Landers:
Yeah, I definitely do miss my friends, but the mountains are quite a bit more fun.

Anthony Godfrey:
So the mountains kind of offset the loss of the North Carolina friends a little bit.  So, tell me what got you into climbing?

Landers:
When I was in preschool, my dad worked at a climbing gym. He used to pick me up and he would always take me to the climbing gym because my mom was still at work.

Anthony Godfrey:
So while you were at the climbing gym, you figure, why not climb? Now preschoolers tend to climb a lot anyway, but you decided to get serious about it.

Landers:
Yeah, when I was in preschool I wanted to travel the world. Climbing was like one of the few sports where when you're a kid, you can travel the whole United States.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you've been climbing from what age?

Landers:
About like 3 or 4 to 11.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're 11 years old. You have done more climbing than I will ever even think about doing, I'll just tell you that right now. We are here at Momentum in Sandy and I walked in to see these walls.  I brought my son, who's 12, here a few times.  I'd forgotten how high these walls are. Do they look high to you when you're walking in or not anymore? Are you just so used it? This is something you conquer daily.

Landers:
Mainly when you go outside it can be a little scary cause how much bigger the walls are than in here.

Anthony Godfrey:
How much do you like to climb indoors versus outdoors?

Landers:
I definitely like outdoors a little bit better just because you're not pulling on the same walls and the same handholds.

Anthony Godfrey:
I don't know a lot about climbing, but I do understand that there are names for certain paths up the mountain. Is that right? And those names get a little crazy don't they? Can you tell me some of the crazy names out there for the way up a mountain?

Landers:
There are a couple that are like Midnight Lightning, which is a very famous climb.

Anthony Godfrey:
Have you done Midnight Lightning?

Landers:
No, it's in Yosemite.

Anthony Godfrey:
Something you aspire to maybe. Jonathan, what are some of the names that you remember, those routes?

Jonathan Gaydosh:
He just did one called Poker Face Alice in Wyoming in an area called Wild Iris.  I guess the wall is called the OK Corral, and so all of the climbs have Western names. Poker Face Alice is one, Give My Love to Rose is another one. It's funny because you know, I think about all the Western movies, what situation is the guy saying, 'Hey, give my love to so-and-so in case I don't return.'

Anthony Godfrey:
That would be a daunting climb. Now that you mentioned that, you know, 'give my love to rose', now I'm going to climb and who knows if I'll return?

Speaker 4:

Then of course he did white Buffalo. He climbed a really famous Southeastern climb called Bumbly, which is such a unique rock. He's the youngest to climb one right here in little Cottonwood canyon called Big Guy. It's a pretty historical landmark because it's a boulder, that's about 45 feet tall and you climb it without a rope. The LDS church had drilled into it to break off the granite to build the temple downtown. So not only is it historical climb in little Cottonwood, it also has a historical story to the rock itself. It's a beautiful piece of rock.

Anthony Godfrey:
It's a 45 foot boulder. What goes through your head when you stand in front of a 45 foot boulder and say, you know what? I think I'll climb that?

Landers:
I'm thinking, 'is this doable for me?' Because Big Guy was not super hard or out for me, and so that's why I was like, 'I kind of want to do that.' Cause it looks really cool and it just looks so cool, cause it's right on the river.

Anthony Godfrey:
Are you always looking for the next challenge? Do you want it to be challenging in that? That's what it sounds like.

Landers:
Yeah, because I'm like not even halfway. There's so much to climb and I'm not even close.

Anthony Godfrey:
Do you repeat climbs very often or are you always looking for the next new climb?

Landers:
Outside? I don't normally repeat climbs, but inside when I'm training, I might do a climb and be like, okay, that kinda got my muscles going, I might do that again.

Anthony Godfrey:
I love that mentality 'that got my muscles going. It's a challenge. I might try that one again.' But mostly you're looking for a new challenge.

Anthony Godfrey:
Stay with us when we come back, find out if this amazing Southland student has his eyes set on future Olympic competition.

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Anthony Godfrey:
Tell me a little bit about competition. I'll let you tell the listeners what happened at your last competition.

Landers:
So my last competition in Nevada, I got second and third. I got second in bouldering and third in ropes and I was very surprised.

Anthony Godfrey:
Now, that was a national competition, and I saw the people you were up against. You're at the bottom of your age group, right? So you were climbing against some other kids that are taller. They have an advantage just by reaching up.

Landers:
Yeah, but not all the time. It makes a big difference, but sometimes, they might have to get in this tiny space and grab these tiny holds.

Landers:
So sometimes you use your size to your advantage?

Landers:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
Jonathan, tell us a little bit about how those are structured. What are some of the categories and how does the scoring work?

Jonathan Gaydosh:
The categories they have Youth Junior all the way down to Youth D.  Youth C, which is what Landers is in, is ages 11 to 12, and then B is 13 -14,  A is 15-16, and then Juniors is 17 and 18 year olds.

Anthony Godfrey:
So he was competing in the national competition, bottom of his age bracket, and took second and third in different categories.

Jonathan Gaydosh:
Yes. If he was one month younger, he couldn't be any younger for his age group. So he is at the very, very bottom of his age group. It's a two day competition for rope climbing, and then he took a two day rest because he doesn't speed climb, and then it's a two day competition for bouldering. He had to climb two routes for qualifier, and he made it through that round. Then they had semifinals the morning of, and in the semifinal rounds, they have to go to an isolation room with all the other kids that are in their age group.

Anthony Godfrey:
Isolation. So you don't see the path other people take up the climb.

Jonathan Gaydosh:
Exactly, they don't let them see the routes. Not only do they have to have the ability to climb it, they have to have the ability to read what the route is supposed to make them do or make their body movements and their foot work.

Anthony Godfrey:
I think we ought to go out and see you go to work. You can kind of talk me through how this all works. We're here in the cathedral, if you will, of climbing Momentum, these huge walls, that curve back at us with lots of colorful shapes and bumps, you probably see a route right there. Don't you?  So tell me how you get ready to climb.

Landers:
So I have my climbing shoes. I'll put those on.

Anthony Godfrey:
They look like they're made out of hard rubber.

Landers:
Some of them are made of hard rubber to last longer, but these are made out of soft rubber, so when you step on a hold they take the shape.

Anthony Godfrey:
They give a little bit.

Landeres:
They're really bendy, they don't really break easily.

Anthony Godfrey:
Okay, you've got  two climbing shoes on now, what's next? Is there a harness here?

Landers:
Yeah, I'm putting my safety harness on.

Anthony Godfrey:
You trust a lot to those clips. I put keys on him before, but never my whole body.

Landers:
My kind are a little different.

Anthony Godfrey:
Kind of do the double check of the equipment here.

Landers:
Tighten the waist.

Anthony Godfrey:
I can see you've done this a time or two.

Landers:
Yeah.

Anthony Godfrey:
We're here in the corner. It looks like this wall has a terrible skin condition.

Landers:
I'll be doing this white one, a 5.10 b.

Anthony Godfrey:
So you're going to be taking the white. So you're tying in, what do you call it now? You're tying the rope around your harness.

Landers:
Yeah, the knot is called a figure 8 because it looks like an 8. You just follow that rope all the way around.

Anthony Godfrey:
Back through. I'm already lost, but it looks really good. Wow! That's a perfect knot, it looks nice too.

Landers:
When you fall it tightens. If you have a little more extra, you might tie a pretzel. I don't have enough, but you might try that just so it doesn't fling around.

Anthony Godfrey:
Just to tie it off. Okay, cool. All right. So now it's being hooked into a pulley and a clip, right? Are you going to clip that pulley to the front of you?

Jonathan Gaydosh:
Yep, so now he's on belay.

Anthony Godfrey:
He's on belay.

Jonathan Gaydosh:
So as he goes up, he'll clip the rope into the quick draws.  So that way, if he falls, he still falls, but he gets caught there.

Anthony Godfrey:
I don't walk as well as he climbs. He's just like, oh, step, step. And now the wall is curved back. So that changes fast

Jonathan Gaydosh:

Yeah, it's steeper, I mean, I've done this one right here and it's steeper than it looks.

Anthony Godfrey:
It looks pretty steep. Landers, you just scampered up there. That was just crazy. So  is that like your happy place to be climbing and then gliding down like that? That is awesome. So does that wear you out at all or is that just like a routine thing?

Landers:
That one is like a warmup, so when I get on like harder things, I don't pull a muscle or anything.

Anthony Godfrey:
It kind of took my breath away to see how fast you go up there and how confident you are just with your next step. That was awesome. Very cool to watch.

Thanks for joining us on the Supercast. Remember education is the most important thing you will do today. We'll see out there.

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