A Central Oregon climbing gym qualified 94% of its students for a regional competition.
“It’s been honestly incredible,” said 13-year-old Coby Smith. “I’ve started out as like a beginner climber when I was in first grade, and now I’m a pretty advanced climber and it’s great. So it’s been very fun and very exciting.”
Smith has been climbing at the Bend Endurance Academy for seven years, more than half the 13-year-old’s life. He is one of 17 climbers who qualified for the USA Climbing Bouldering Regional Championship in Portland.
“There’s going to be four routes, and you’re going to never see the routes until you climb, and you get four minutes on each route,” he said.
For some, this qualification is a first.
“I’ve heard it’s really friendly and nice, and I think it’d be fun to compete,” said Jaden Radatti.
Some have their eyes set on nationals.
“I really like just like the atmosphere and have the opportunity to move on and qualify, and a lot of my friends go to other gyms around Oregon, and I get to see them and try some really cool boulders that they set just for us for regionals,” said 13-year-old Quinn Nash-Webber.
Climbers Director Cate Beebe is getting them ready for the contest.
“We run a mock round every week,” she said. “So I think that really helps prepare them for the mental aspect of comp climbing,” Beebe said.
As Smith’s abilities have broadened, so has the Bend Endurance Academy.
“We started in a super small facility,” Smith said. “It’s really tiny and we would also practice up at Bend Rock Gym. It’s been really fun seeing the team grow, and I like seeing my teammates grow and our climbing abilities grow.”
The regional event is January 13 in Portland and serves for the youth climbers on the road to the Youth National Championships.
The next event would be the Divisional Championships, which are slated for February 10-11.