Local non-profit climbing team turns 10

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 7:02 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A local non-profit climbing team is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Sierra Climbing Team (SCT) was started in 2012 and teaches kids how to climb at Basecamp at The Whitney Peak.

“I’d originally been climbing at our recreation center. They didn’t really have grades there, just set climbs,” said Harry Pullen, a climber with SCT.

They teach kids between the ages of 8 and 18, with the goal of making them climbers for life.

“Our goal is to have them climb for the rest of their lives,” said Brian Sweeney, Head coach of SCT. “If they want to compete, that’s great. We’ll support them in that. We’ve been able to send kids to worlds, but we also just genuinely want them to enjoy the sport.”

Becoming a good climber takes a lot of work and involves a lot of muscles we normally don’t use, so they also teach kids how to build those muscles.

“On packed days like this, we do tag teams with workouts mixed in with our climbs,” said Charlotte Jonas, a climber with SCT. “So one of us is doing a workout and one of us is climbing so we get both in on one day.”

Not only do they teach kids how to climb and how to stay fit, they teach kids how to handle some of life’s biggest challenges: failure.

“Climbing is such a good analogy for struggle,” said Sweeney. “You fall, fall, try, try, eventually succeed. That’s what happens in life. So if we can get these kids prepared to deal with adversity, struggle, failure, at a formative age, it’s just setting them up for success later.”

To sign up your kids, all you have to do is go to Sierra Climbing Team’s website, then schedule a try out. Kids of all skill levels are welcome. The tryout is more or less to see how kids do with the rest of the team and how much they want to be there.

“They join the practice as if they were on the team for the 2.5 hour duration,” said Gwendolyn Roberts, Coach and Team Manager of SCT. “Then at the end, we just evaluate whether or not they did well with the other kids, were they here to try hard, do they take direction, and are they stoked to be here and climb.”

Sierra Climbing Team is the only non-profit climbing team in Nevada, which makes it a great alternative for kids who don’t want to play a mainstream sport, like football or basketball.

Parents also like the team because they can climb with their kids while they’re learning.

“I think it’s special too because instead of the parents sitting on the sidelines,” said Erin Seimer, a parent of one of SCT’s climbers. “The parents can climb too, which is pretty special.”