Area climbers prep for final regular season meet of 2021
ASCL Western Slope Region’s third of seven regular season meets is Saturday at Eagle Climbing + Fitness
The American Scholastic Climbing League club teams from Vail Mountain School, Battle Mountain High School and Eagle Valley High School will ascend the climbing wall at Eagle Climbing and Fitness this Saturday for the third regular-season Western Slope Region climbing competition.
“We are super excited for the upcoming meet,” wrote Battle Mountain coach Eddie Farrell in an email earlier week. “All of the kids have been climbing hard in the off-season and these competitions are a fun way to show how all of their training has paid off.”
The Huskies’ Aiden Manning, who has been climbing from a young age and was fourth in the state competition as a sophomore in 2020 and 12th last season, has opened up the 2021-22 campaign with consecutive titles at the Carbondale bouldering event Nov. 13 and the Grand Valley mixed event Nov. 20.
“She is looking to keep that streak going,” Farrell stated.
“She’s an incredibly strong, very, very talented athlete,” echoed Larry Moore, the managing owner of the 3-year-old world-class climbing facility who is also a co-regional director in the Western Slope, one of four Colorado regions in the league.
Originally from Denver, Moore has been teaching climbing in the valley for 21 years and has helped many local athletes from the time they were 5 or 6 years old. He has also been an active rock climber outside of his gym, pioneering several routes in the Lime Creek area. His extensive background hosting events and coaching athletes in USA Climbing competitions has not diminished his enthusiasm for the distinct climbing league concept.
“The ASCL is a very inclusive league,” he said earlier this week. “The idea is kind of just to introduce people to the sport, get them involved, get in and experience, (and) take them to the competitive realm at whatever speed and level they are comfortable with.”
Before the formal establishment of the league, no arena existed for young people not ready to commit to the intensity level of the USA Climbing circuit. In speaking of the league’s creation, Moore said the vision was “more about fun and the experience of climbing than necessarily all about the competition.”
The USA Climbing contests all three sport climbing events — bouldering during the fall, and lead and speed climbing during the spring. The ASCL contests bouldering and rope climbing, but has no speed climbing element. Moore’s facility is able to host both formats at once, which means he’ll be busy. “We’ll have 20 boulder problems in the competition and 20 rope climbs in the competition,” he said about Saturday’s meet.
The event is the third of seven regular-season meets, with teams eyeing both the regional championship in Eagle on Feb. 5 and the state championship in Broomfield on Feb. 26. Moore, whose wife Courtney now also runs the gym after starting the high school team at Battle Mountain when she worked there as a teacher, has hosted the state championship the previous two years. In 2022, it will be the second region meet the young business has put on.
“The gym’s only been open for three years,” he said. “We’ve been super active in hosting events; bringing the sport to high schoolers.”
On the team side, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, which was third in the girl’s team scoring and second in the boy’s team scoring at the Varsity State Championship last May, will be competing in the second wave of action for those who wish to make the event a full-day affair.
Other than Manning, Battle Mountain fans should keep their eyes on Sage Eaton, a 10th place state finisher in 2021. Farrell is also excited about the boys, who are led by Nicholas Olsen.
“The boy’s team is strong and improving every day,” he stated.
“Many of the climbers have only started within the last few years, but are already climbing at impressive levels.”
Eagle Valley is led by Reese Manley, who placed third last week at the Grand Valley mixed event. Moore, who sees both squads practice Wednesday nights, said Manley is relatively new to the sport, but progressing quickly. “She’s really getting into her stride and doing super well.”
The fact that both schools — arch rivals in every sport — practice together, is a demonstration of the camaraderie that Moore believes makes climbing so unique.
“Climbing is very hard — the harder you climb the harder it gets,” he said. “It’s by far the most supportive environment of any sport I’ve ever been a part of. Whatever level you’re at, we’re all trying hard, we’re all struggling, we all need support, the guidance from those around us. It’s an incredibly supportive community.”
It’s a theme he believes in enough to embed into the mission statement of his own company.
“The motto of our gym is ‘building strength in our community,’ because it’s what we do,” Moore said. “Not just on a physical realm, but also on the social aspects of supporting and building each other up.”
Participation in the sport transcends first ascensions, too.
“Climbing is an incredible sport for the development of people of all ages but particularly children,” he said.
“There is so much that goes into climbing that translates to life lessons that apply to school, relationships, future jobs, you name it, because you’re constantly problem solving, working on trust and communication with your partners and coaches.”
Wave 1 – 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. — Ridgway, Silverton, Aspen, Basalt, Summit, Vail Mountain School, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley
Wave 2 – 1-4 p.m. — Colorado Rocky Mountain School, Gunnison, Montrose, Norwood