Steamboat youth athletes scale to new heights in first competition of the 2023-24 season

Micah Setter, a sixth-grade student at Sleeping Giant School, climbs in Eagle during his first American Scholastic Climbing League of the 2023-24 season on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.
Kate Stern/Steamboat Climbing Collective

For the majority of athletes on the Steamboat Climbing Collective youth team, they are competing in and traveling for climbing events across the Western Slope for the very first time.

This year, Steamboat climbers are competing in the American Scholastic Climbing League, which coach Kate Stern said is a little less competitive and focuses primarily on staying active, having fun and building camaraderie within the climbing community.

On Saturday, Steamboat traveled to Eagle for its first competition of the season, where the athletes got the opportunity to put one event under their belt and get a feel for what they are up against in the remainder of the climbing season.

According to Stern, the key for her athletes is understanding there will be different climbs and challenges they will face in every competition. To prepare them for this, Stern and her co-coach, John Starr, hosted a mini mock competition with climbs their athletes had not seen before. 

“It is not necessarily about competing with each other, but about competing against the walls,” Stern said. 

Zoey Allen, a Steamboat Springs Middle School student, placed sixth in her first American Scholastic Climbing League competition of the season in Eagle on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.
Kate Stern/Steamboat Climbing Collective

Saturday was a redpoint competition consisting of 30 climbs ranging from a V0-V9 challenge level. Athletes had three hours to complete the most challenging climbs they could, and their top five climbs completed were scored. 

Climbers take some time prior to the start of a competition to analyze the walls and pick out the climbs they think they should tackle. Stern’s goal is to make sure her athletes fill out their scorecards with five completed climbs within the first half of the competition. 

“There is a strategy of making sure you are not exerting too much energy on the same climb over and over again because you can try a climb over and over, but if you don’t complete it, it does not count toward your score,” Stern said. “You want to pick climbs that suit you so you can flash the climb.”

A flash is when the athletes complete a climb on their first try, giving them extra points.

Steamboat Climbing Collective youth team’s JD Oss takes on a wall in Eagle during the Western Slope’s first competition in the American Scholastic Climbing League on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023.
Kate Stern/Steamboat Climbing Collective

With 12 Steamboat athletes competing Saturday, Micah Setter led the charge for the middle school boys, placing third overall. Colson McTigue and Miles Warnke were close behind in fourth and fifth.

Zoey Allen was the lone middle school girl from Steamboat to compete, placing sixth in the event. Similarly, Novella Light was the only high school girl from Steamboat. She came in 11th.

JD Oss earned a top-10 finish and placed ninth in the high school boys category. 

Stern said her biggest hope for this season is to see the athletes continue to grow and learn from their failures. Those who want to qualify for regionals will need to compete in at least three competitions by February. 

“My goal for them is to have fun, get that experience, meet other kids throughout the region and make those connections,” Stern said. “For our younger kids, if they continue this, they can be competing for six years here.”

Western Slope Climbing No. 1
Nov. 4, 2023

Middle School Boys — 3. Micah Setter; 4. Colson McTigue; 5. Miles Warnke; 9. Aiden Knottcamp; 12. Abraham Hamburger;  13. Benjamin Stone; 26. Ethan Summers. 

Middle School Girls — 6. Zoey Allen. 

High School Boys — 9. JD Oss; 23. Andrew Stone; 40. Tyler Stone.

High School Girls — 11. Novella Light.

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