Staff Bios - Meet the Wallnuts Team!
Leo van Ulden - President/CEO
Leo started Wallnuts with his Mother Inge in the mid 90’s and has been at the forefront of Newfoundland climbing ever since. He is a certified through Thompson Rivers University as an ACMG Climbing Gym Instructor Level 3 Apprentice, and Top Rope Climbing Instructor. He wrote and published The Newfoundland Climbing Guide in 2007 which has sold almost 500 copies to date and is still the only published guide for climbers in the province. He is the most certified and experienced instructor, guide, and coach in Newfoundland.
Leo is passionate about business, coaching, climbing, surfing, mountain biking, and his family which includes his 2 boys; Joost and Levi as well as his partner Stacey.
His current life goals include the expansion of Wallnuts into a new facility which will give our customers a top notch climbing experience and aid in building athletes to compete at the Olympic level when the day comes.
F Hutson Myles - Vice-President/Head Instructor
Hutson started climbing when he was 21 (not counting a few birthday parties at Wallnuts back in 1995-1996) and has been hooked ever since. He joined the Wallnuts team after a previous life in the IT industry. He is certified as a Climbing Wall Instructor Certification Course Provider with the Climbing Wall Association. His duties at the gym include training staff in risk management and safety instruction, and teaching advanced safety systems courses in addition to his role as part of the Board of Directors. His climbing goals include trying out ice climbing this coming winter, pursuing outdoor guiding certifications with the ACMG, and doing more travelling to climbing areas elsewhere in the world. When he isn’t working at the gym or climbing, Hutson enjoys cooking delicious food, enjoying single malt whisky, and playing board games with friends.
Ben Winstanley - Manager/Junior Team Head Coach
Ben grew up in England, moving to St. John's when he was 16, in 2002. Having been climbing since the age of 11 as part of the outdoor pursuits program at his secondary school (Bolton School), the first thing he did when he arrived was to search out the local climbing gym and get himself a membership.
Progressing up the ranks, from volunteer belay staff, to desk monkey, to instructor, and now head coach of the provincial junior team, he's constantly trying to improve his own climbing level and imparting that knowledge on to the next generation of rock stars. Along the way he's picked up his CWI certification and has attended the Canadian Coaches Conference in Banff, AB. Other than coaching, Ben also takes on the role of head routesetter and oversees the rotation of routes and problems to keep the gym fresh and exciting.
Ben is predominantly a boulderer, and spends much of his free time pebble wrestling in Newfoundland's great outdoors. When he's not climbing, Ben can often be found drinking copious amounts of coffee, drinking small amounts of expensive whiskey, or cuddling up with his cats on the couch.
Glenn Day - Manager/Instructor
Aside from a few childhood visits to Wallnuts here and there, Glenn had his first real climbing experience in 2012 when he was introduced to outdoor bouldering by a colleague. Realizing very quickly that he enjoyed the sport immensely, Glenn decided to take a trip to Wallnuts that same week and hasn't looked back since. After developing a severe harness allergy early on, he spent his early years bouldering almost exclusively. After a great deal of soul-searching and personal reflection, Glenn has since broken out into some occasional sport climbing.
When he's not climbing in the gym, you can usually find Glenn either behind the desk hammering away at a computer, or out in the gym teaching lessons. Beyond his usual staff duties, Glenn is kept busy making sure we deliver a top-notch junior climbing program, and working on a variety of projects and administrative tasks that (usually) contribute to making Wallnuts the best it can be.
Outside of the wide world of climbing, Glenn is a business student at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and a volunteer with Scouts Canada.
Joel Harvie - Sales Manager
Joel started climbing in 2010 at Wallnuts. For Joel, climbing was love at first sight. Within two weeks he was hired on as a belayer. Since then, his roles have included: Route setting, managing the Wallnuts Junior Climbing Program, coaching the Newfoundland Junior Climbing Team, coordinating local climbing competitions, and managing the Wallnuts staff. Joel is very passionate (i.e. very loud) about his love for Wallnuts and rock climbing. Joel currently holds a role as Wallnuts' sales manager, in addition to instruction duties, and heading up our events program.
Outside of the gym, Joel is an avid outdoor boulderer. Frequenting the many St. John’s bouldering destinations, he is always excited to have new climbers tag along to help grow the community.
Joel has travelled to Squamish, British Columbia and Red Rocks, Nevada on climbing trips. He can’t really get through a day without mentioning Squamish to someone…
If you need a belay or someone to climb with, Joel is the guy in the gym singing along loudly to whatever tunes happen to be playing. If the gym is quiet, he’s probably at home playing guitar, drinking beer, or eating tacos.
Molly Clarke - Junior Program Coordinator
Molly Clarke started climbing when she was 14 years old, participating in the Junior Program for two years. After helping teach belay lessons for three years, she joined the desk staff in December of 2014. She completed her CWI certification earlier in the year and currently coaches the youngest age group of Wallnuts’ Junior Program, saying that it is one of the highlights of her week.
She loves climbing, but one of the biggest perks of working and climbing at Wallnuts she says is the climbing community. “I couldn’t think of a better group of people. It makes the sport that much more enjoyable.” She is really excited by the expansion of the boulder terrain, and Wallnuts getting a new climbing facility! She loves being involved with the Junior Program. Having done the program herself, she enjoys watching new climbers become fixated with finishing their project or finally getting that move!
Outside of climbing, Molly likes travelling, learning cool facts, playing piano and ukulele, teaching Irish dance, hiking, skiing, reading, and hanging out with all her friends. She also claims to know every song from every musical ever written.
Andrew Dunsmore - Instructor
Andrew started climbing at one of the very first birthday parties Wallnuts ever hosted. Years later he revisited the activity and discovered there was a lot more to it than just racing his grade school friends up the wall!
Entering his fifth year of climbing (as an adult, that is) he has been fortunate to have climbed and worked in various climbing gyms in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago and Las Vegas as well as right here in his hometown of St. John's, NL. Climbing outdoors is also something Andrew enjoys, and hopes to climb outdoors every week next season.
Andrew completed his CWI certification course this past year. He loves to lead climb but he's also very excited for the expansion of the boulder terrain and has been bouldering much more since then! His favourite thing about working at Wallnuts is introducing new people to the sport, seeing them get better and feel good about their progress.
Outside of climbing Andrew enjoys listening to vinyl and hi-fi audio, making espresso drinks and spending time with his dog. FUN FACT - Andrew is also a musician who played on a Juno award-winning album in 2014. Want to know more? Ask him about it next time you see him in the gym.
Jacqui Bodwell - Instructor
Jacqui Bodwell was born and raised in Surrey, British Columbia. At the age of 19, she packed up all her things, googled climbing gyms in Canada and moved all the way to St. John’s, Newfoundland to attend Memorial University to get her degree in biology. Like many tiny humans, she used to throw her birthday parties in climbing gyms where she would race everyone to the top of the wall and refuse to come down.
When she entered the dreaded preteen years, she declared climbing “not her thing”. Later in life, fate so happened to give her a free drop in pass and her love for climbing was reborn. Jacqui has been climbing now for 6 years and while back home in BC she tries to make it out to Squamish as much as she can.
Jacqui loves sport climbing, and her goal is to get out to Flatrock as she has never been there. She loves kids and coaching is one of her favourite things to do. To see the kids improve and be super stoked makes her extremely happy. Jacqui’s wide range of hobbies includes reading, napping, going to aquariums, and watching Dr. Who. If you are ever in the gym and want to talk about climbing, Harry Potter or just want to say hi, she’ll greet you with a smile.
Sarah Gerbig - Instructor
Sarah has always been a well-rounded athlete, but only discovered the wonderful world of climbing when she was placed at Wallnuts Climbing Centre for a work-term. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Recreation with a focus on Outdoor Recreation at Memorial University. After graduating, Sarah plans on travelling the world while completing her yoga teacher training. Hopefully, you will see her “shake her asana” in her own beach-side yoga studio in the future. Asides from her student-athlete life, Sarah enjoys eating pasta, watching 80’s movies with champagne, sipping a cold beer while the game is on, shopping for awesome leggings and drinking an abundance of green tea.
Sarah Spurrell - Instructor
Sarah Spurrell starting climbing at Wallnuts when she was 15 years old and has been hooked ever since. She climbed outdoors for the first time through the Wallnuts junior program, joined the Newfoundland Provincial Climbing team and has climbed indoors and out across the province, country, and continent, placing first in competitions locally and away.
Her most recent climbing destination was Red Rocks, Nevada with her teammates, Sarah trains multiple times a week with a focus on sport climbing, while cross-training with gymnastics. She has an interest in experimenting with body movements as well as development/access to new climbing areas. Already setting routes in the gym, Sarah also learned to bolt recently; helping to bolt, name and then FA a project that was her first 5.12.
She credits climbing with helping her survive those awkward teen years. Sarah's favourite part of her job at Wallnuts is helping our youngest athletes grow as people and in their passion for the sport!
Erin Boyd - Instructor
Erin has always been a multi-sport athlete but when she started climbing in 2014 she was instantly hooked. She has recently completed a degree in Kinesiology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and is very excited about the opportunity to share her classroom knowledge with the climbing community. Her favorite things to do at the gym are routesetting, coaching the Junior Climbing Team, and of course, climbing! Erin loves to spend time outdoors and hopes to do lots of travelling to climb around the world.
Brittany Sobol - Instructor
Brit caught the climbing bug four years ago when her coworkers in a lab at school forced her to be more sociable. She was hooked after just one session and immediately went to the local outdoors store to purchase her first harness and a pair of climbing shoes.
Although she enjoys all aspects of climbing, Brit’s true passion lies in training and competition - something that years of competitive rowing instilled in her. She is an assistant coach for the Newfoundland Provincial Climbing Team, and loves guiding the team members towards their individual goals both inside and out of the competition world. She is currently completing her CWI Level One training. When she isn’t climbing, Brit is likely to be found doing school work, reading Harry Potter, or forcing her friends to run Signal Hill with her.