Help Vail-area climber Ethan Pitcher get to the IFSC Youth World Championships
EAGLE – Ethan Pitcher got caught climbing the side of June Creek Elementary School when he was in fourth grade.
Now 18 and out of school, he’s a few tenths of a second away from the Canadian speed record on the 15-meter wall.
Pitcher, who moved to Edwards at age 3 from his home country of Canada, hopes to leave soon for the International Federation of Sport Climbing Youth World Championships in Arco, Italy — but the trip will be expensive. To help pay for it, he’s putting on clinics tonight at Eagle Climbing + Fitness on Chambers Avenue. A youth clinic is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and an adult clinic is from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Within the various disciplines of the climbing world, speed climbing was never an option for Pitcher. As a member of the local Eagle Talons climbing team, Pitcher trained with coach Larry Moore for years within the confines of the Vail Athletic Club gym, a small space that was best suited to train for the bouldering discipline of climbing, which doesn’t require ropes or a harness.
Pitcher took to bouldering well, said Moore, but when Moore’s new gym, Eagle Climbing + Fitness, opened in 2018, Pitcher was able to test his skills on a speed wall.
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“We’ve only been open eight months, and in that time, he mostly self-coached, found some YouTube videos of the best speed climbers in the world and learned how to speed climb,” Moore said.
Pitcher earned an invite to the Canadian national championships, where he placed second in both the youth and adult categories for speed climbing.
“Being 18, he could actually compete in both youth and adult categories,” Moore said. “Watching the video, we saw he was in the lead in both events, and it was just one little foot slip that cost him first place.”
Pitcher left the competition more motivated than Moore had ever seen him.
“This past winter and spring, he took on the role of a team captain and trained harder than anybody on the team, inspiring everybody on the team,” Moore said. “We weren’t speed training much during practice, so he did that on his own time.”
Now a member of the Canadian youth national team with an invite to the Youth World Championships, “I’m more proud of him now than I ever have been,” Moore said. “Watching this pursuit of something new, teaching himself, in his own time, it’s been amazing to see.”
When thinking of fundraiser ideas, Moore said if locals are half as impressed with Pitcher as he has been, the clinic opportunity could be good for all involved. Those who want to attend can pay for the clinic like they normally would, but the money will go to Pitcher to help with his trip.
“The fact that he taught himself, I think, makes this a great opportunity for others to learn from him, and how he was able to do that,” Moore said.
And as long as Pitcher’s in the gym, he might as well host a clinic.
“When he’s in here training, the whole gym stops to watch him, because it’s such an incredible feat to watch him just run up the wall the way he does,” Moore said.
And if you’re impressed with his skills in training, you should see him compete.
“The competition scene definitely gets me a little more hyped up, a little more psyched,” he said. “I usually do better at competitions. So maybe I will even to better than I think at the competition in Italy.”
If you’re not able to make the tonight’s clinic, you can still support Pitcher’s journey by visiting gofundme.com/climbing-world-championships.
Join ON THE HILL host Sean Naylor for a powder day at Beaver Creek, paired with a generous offering of new terrain.