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click to enlarge ERIK NICKERSON
  • Erik Nickerson

Every year, interest in the sport of rock climbing reaches new heights. Top-rope and bouldering walls are springing up just about everywhere, even on luxury cruise ships. High schools nationwide, including Colorado Springs' Fountain Valley School (FVS), are sponsoring climbing teams alongside standard track-and-field and sports teams.

Micaela Pomatto (pictured above) climbs for the FVS team, and on Feb. 4, she placed second among women climbers at the FVS Open, the first high-school-only competition in Colorado. Pomatto has been making greater hand- and footholds over the past three years.

Taking a breather between routes during the FVS Open, the gravity-defiant Pomatto related a key to her success: "I like to gradually work up to the hardest routes in competition. A lot of people prefer to start right off with the most difficult."

Eight schools from across the state sponsored roughly 50 climbers at the Open, which was held at the Sport Climbing Center on Northpark Drive. Gritted teeth and enthusiasm abounded. One glance around the chalk-clouded gym confirmed equal respect and support for male and female athletes, who cheered one another from spotting positions.

Judges scored the climbing competition based on pre-set routes of varying difficulties. Competitors had three hours to complete as many routes as possible, and each climber's best five scores were tallied for a personal total. Three to five individuals from each school then added their top three personal scores together to create overall team scores.

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