Lake Tahoe climbers ascend podium at USA Climbing Sport & Speed Youth Nationals
August 3, 2017
Two of Tahoe's most promising young climbers took on the nation's best at last month's USA Climbing Sport & Speed Youth Nationals, where both reached the final round to come away with podium finishes.
High Altitude Fitness' Team Flash members Stefan Fellner and Alana Hendricks made the trip to Kennesaw, Ga., for four days of competition on July 13-16, with each climbing through fields of roughly 50 people from around the country to come away with top-10 finishes.
Hendricks, of Tahoe City, competed in both speed climbing and sport climbing at the national championships.
The 11-year-old climber qualified for the national championships after winning both the speed and sport climbing disciplines at the Sport & Speed Divisional — Mission Cliffs on June 17, in San Francisco.
Sport climbing involves climbing from a top rope or lead rope and attempting to climb a route without watching any of the other participants attempting lines. Speed climbing involves an easier route where competitors attempt to finish the climb in the fastest time possible.
At the national championships, the competitors are restricted in how much of the route they can see beforehand, spending most of their time away from the climbing wall until it's their turn to climb.
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Hanging off a wall at up to 75 feet in the air, Hendricks said she's right at home, working her way higher up the wall than most any girl in her age group.
"I'm not afraid of heights," she said. "I like to look down, and just look at all these heads."
She said she got into the sport because of her older sister, and also because of one her elementary school teachers, who also climbs.
At nationals, Hendricks would get off to a tough start with a 22nd-place finish out of 48 climbers after the first route of the qualifying round in the Youth D category (11-and-under).
She'd rebound with the seventh-best score on the second route of qualifying to finish 11th overall, and advance into the semifinal round.
Hendricks then put together her best performance of the championships with a third-place finish on the only climb of the semifinals to advance into the final round of competition against 10 other girls.
In the finals, Hendricks scored 63.50 points for her final climb to finish in eight place overall. Hendricks also competed in speed climbing at nationals, finishing in 20th place out of 45 climbers.
Though she said there's much about competing and climbing that she enjoys, it's the community and other climbers her age that Hendricks said she likes the most about the sport.
"I get to see a lot of my friends," she said. "I have this friend, and I only get to see her if I make it to nationals and she makes it to nationals. I've met a lot of friends along the way, and I like to have fun — that's the main idea with climbing."
Fellner, age 16, entered USA Climbing's Youth A division (16-17 years old) after taking second place in sport climbing at the Sport & Speed Divisional — Mission Cliffs in San Francisco. He'd also compete in speed climbing at the divisional, taking a third-place finish out of 18 competitors.
Fellner got off to a quick start in the qualifying round of the national championships with the highest score on the first route of qualifying; followed by the third highest score in the round's second route for the overall top ranking heading into the semifinals.
Fellner would then climb to the second highest score in the semifinal round's only climb to reach the finals.
With a trip to the Youth Climbing World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, on the line, Fellner's final climb scored 33.58 points for third place and a spot on the team representing the U.S. at the World Championships. Fellner also competed in speed climbing at nationals, but failed to qualify for the final round of the competition, finishing with 16th place.
The Youth Climbing World Championships takes place from Aug. 30 – Sept. 10. To prepare Fellner is currently training six hours a day in Atlanta with the USA Climbing Team, according to his parents.
To help pay for the cost of the trip, High Altitude Fitness is giving a portion of its proceeds from a raffle, which will go toward the gym's youth climbing program as well.
The raffle will have over $5,000 in prizes and includes an autographed Kevin Durant jersey, High Altitude gym memberships, gift cards, and more.
To purchase a raffle ticket or donate to the program visit HighAltitudeFit.net.