Climbers fell off the walls left and right, landing hard on the mats and sending plumes of chalk dust through the sweat-soaked air.
But not local Megan Mascarenas, who said the routes were too easy. She’s been climbing since the age of 2, and it showed Sunday at the American Bouldering Series Youth Nationals at City Auditorium.
Mascarenas, 15, topped all three problems, or routes, falling only once in her first round. She flashed the second two, scurrying to the top without hitting the mat, and came in second for the female youth A division. Kyra Condie, from the VE Mountain Goats team, came in first place.
Mascarenas lives in Colorado Springs but trains and competes with Team America’s Best Climbers Boulder. She said she trains 2 to 3 hours a day, four days a week — half in Boulder, half in Colorado Springs.
Now the Springs teen has secured a spot on Team USA, in the adult division, and will be competing in the World Cup in Colorado this year.
More than 350 kids under 18 came to compete in nationals from all over the country. More than half of them were eliminated Friday and Saturday in qualifying and semifinal rounds, and the routes were changed for each division every day.
Climbers had 4 minutes to get to the top of routes they had never seen.
They weren’t allowed to watch how their competitors figured out the challenges, and they didn’t know how many people before them had flashed or fallen.
“It’s kind of stressful,” she said. “You don’t really know exactly when you’re going out because the times are off, and you want to be warmed up but not too tired.”
Team ABC brought 22 climbers to the competition and nine of them, including Mascarenas, scored spots with Team USA. Coach Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou said her athletes performed impressively at the finals.
“Those out there are killing it,” she said. “We train hard, we have amazing coaches, a great facility and a lot of support from parents.”
Competing is a thrill for Mascarenas, who said each problem is like a puzzle. She likes the challenges.
“Sometimes it’s pretty obvious and sometimes you have to figure it out when you get there,” she said.
“I like those the best.”