High Altitude Fitness in Incline Village held its first climbing competition in three years on Saturday, March 22.
The morning started with the first Northern California Regional Sport Climbing Series competition. High Altitude Fitness’ (HAF) kids climbing team, Flash, showcased the exponential growth that the climbing program has seen since September 2013.
The majority of the young athletes have been climbing for less than a full year, but you’d never know it. They possess grace on the wall, technique and stamina that the universe affords only to those who don’t yet know the meaning of “pumped.”
Two of HAF’s youngest, fiercest and newest competitors, Marina and Alana Hendricks, showed just how psyched they are, as Marina took fifth in the Youth Female D category for SCS and first in the beginner category for the Tahoe Top-Out.
Alana, nipping at her sister’s heals, took third in the Youth Female D category for SCS and second in the same category for the Tahoe Top-Out. Both youngsters have been climbing for less than 6 months.
Another promising Flasher, Sam Keechler, finished second in the Youth Male A category, a feat that coaches attribute to his “have-fun and send hard” attitude.
This attitude was not built in a day. Climbing can be frustrating, challenging and, at times, downright daunting. High Altitude’s climbers are learning how to overcome the obstacles and reach the top, and it seems they are intent on doing it together.
Aside from the aforementioned competitors, Stefan Fellner, who jumps around the top three spots in his category at nearly every comp, also represented HAF well. On Saturday he walked away with second place, sharing the top podium spot with his buddy from Granite Arch’s climbing team.
Stefan and his most fierce competition are great friends, which is a testament to the camaraderie of the sport.
Stefan’s brother Brennan and teammate James Olson also stood on the podium on Saturday, Brennan in third for Youth Male D and James sneaking up and stealing second in the Youth Male D.
HAF’s route setters, meanwhile, owner, Jason Burd, pro athlete Flannery Shay-Nemirow, and V10+ climbers Eric Wolff and Dustin Sabo, are some of the best.
These guys spent a week of 11-hour days preparing the gym, setting awesome routes (with tons of sweet, brand new holds), and helping plan out the details of the event. It is thanks to Flannery, a longtime USA Climbing competitor who took on the role of “competition manager,” that the day went off without a hitch.
The community support was palpable, from the many sponsors (local and commercial) who donated prizes for winners and raffles, to parents who slaved over hot ovens to bring tasty treats for the bake sale.