A gaggle of young rock climbers filled the Breckenridge Recreation Center Saturday afternoon during an American Bouldering Series-sanctioned competition.
The competition took place on the rock climbing wall, where bouldering problems are marked for climbers to ascend without ropes. Children climbed for three hours on Saturday, followed by a handful of adults who took to the wall from 3-6 p.m.
For some of the climbers, participating Saturday meant a ticket to the regional competition in Fort Collins, as they'd already attended an ABS comp in Boulder and need just two to advance to where points start counting.
For others, like 7-year-olds Aisley and Galen Grohusky, it was an introduction to the world of climbing competition.
"It's fun," Aisley said about climbing. She and her twin brother have a climbing wall in their garage, as parents Kathryn and Brad have been climbing together after meeting in a climbing gym roughly 20 years ago.
"Some of them I tried a bunch of times," Aisley said. "It's OK not to get it the first time. I never want to give up."
For Galen, climbing is simpler.
"You get to use your arms and feet," he said thoughtfully. "If you didn't have your arms, you couldn't climb."
He found the scoring part of the climbing competition different than his expectations, which were to just go into the gym and climb what he wanted.
He did learn something from the event, though, and that's to really rely on the toes when faced with tough pinch holds.
Kids traveled from Miramont in Fort Collins, as well as Idaho Springs, Evergreen, Georgetown and Golden to compete alongside Team Summit Climbing's elite, advanced and prep kids. Four judges from the rec center held the kids accountable in their categories, which had different permissions based on the child's age and ability level.
For 10-year-old Oliver Pattenden, the competition was an exercise in tackling every intermediate problem on the wall - and giving two of the advanced routes a shot. He turned his scorecard in early because there was nothing else he felt was within his ability level. He still placed first with 13,700 points in his division, receiving a chalk bag, brush tool and a $30 gift certificate to Mountain Khakis, an event sponsor.
"I like meeting new people and getting better at climbing," said Oliver, whose mother climbs some and whose father serves with Summit County Rescue Group. Oliver is on the advanced team through Team Summit Climbing and expects to travel to Fort Collins for the regional competition. The tough part of climbing, Oliver said, is making moves with smaller holds and maintaining concentration when there's a flurry of activity around him.
The regional competition is slated for Dec. 8-9 in Fort Collins, while the national competition is slated for March 1-3 in Colorado Springs.
These youths aren't the only ones with their sights set on bigger competitions. Five adults took to the wall later in the day Saturday, with Michael Insani, Nathan Liles and Alexandra Bennicas in the open category, Claire Gripp in the beginner category and Kevin Olson in the intermediate category. It was a small competition for the adults, who often seen more than 100 competitors at a single qualifying event.