Local climber makes nationals
Recently, the USA Climbing ABS Youth National Championships for bouldering were in Madison, Wisconsin, and Avon’s Benji Dantas represented the Vail Athletic Club Climbing Team for his first bouldering national championships. He came in fourth place for the 11-and-under division and received an invitation to the USA Climbing Youth Team, a first for any young athlete in the Vail Valley.
“Benji was the youngest climber we had on the team when he started,” VAC head coach Larry Moore said. “He began with private lessons and, after showing incredible potential, I allowed our first 5 year old to join the team — now we even have a few 4 year olds.”
Dantas has been climbing six years now with the team and works with coaches Mike Kimmel, Justin Miller, Tim Dailey, Adam Markert and Courtney Moore. The exceptional quality of coaching and route-setting, or assembling holds on the wall for a climb, has been an important part of this success story. Additionally, Dantas has always had excellent support from his family, from building a training wall in the garage, to training with him, cheering him on and getting him to all of the competitions possible.
Last July, Dantas qualified for the roped climbing SCS National Championships in Atlanta, where he placed a respectable 22nd place at his first event of this magnitude. This ABS bouldering season, Dantas was both the regional champion and the divisional champion and headed to nationals with good momentum.
The event in Madison was in a new location for the first time in several years. There were 365 competitors representing 35 states, with the best youth climbers in the nation competing for a spot on the USA Youth Team. In each age and gender category, the top four spots receive an invitation to the team and, beginning at age 12, an opportunity to represent the USA at international events.
For more information regarding climbing at the Vail Athletic Club or the children’s program, please call Larry Moore at 970-477-3239.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.