Left to right: TJ Foley, Aris Haraga, Ezra Bowden, Colby Holt and Taryn Chaney will compete at the 2019 CEC Youth Bouldering National Championships. Photo by Jessica Dempsey

Local athletes climb into bouldering nationals

Five athletes from ARQ Mountain Centre will compete in the Youth Bouldering National Championships

ARQ Mountain Centre will have five of its athletes participating at the 2019 CEC Youth Boulder National Championships in Montreal from Feb. 16-18.

For some of these athletes, they have only been training for a couple of years and have become top climbers in Western Canada.

“We opened ARQ two and a half years ago, so we basically started the team then. Most of the kids were brand new and they have improved expediently over that time frame, it has been really cool to watch them,” said Gordon McArthur, owner/director, ARQ Mountain Centre.


The athletes are going to compete in bouldering, which McArthur explains as climbing below 12-15 feet with no ropes.

“Bouldering is a bunch of moves put together that is not super long like roped routes,” he said.

Fourteen-year-old Ezra Bowden is one of the athletes heading to Montreal and has been climbing since the inception of ARQ.

“I’m really excited, it’s going to be really fun,” he said. “I went to nationals last year and I really enjoyed it.”

All of the athletes have been preparing for the championships with lots of training leading up to the event.

The oldest of the bunch Colby Holt, 17, has been climbing for more than two years and says he likes bouldering because of the skills he has gained.

“It points out certain skills even more and has a lot of power and is technical … some people explain it as the mental chest. It has a lot of mental aspects of it … and there’s a lot of jumping and abstract style movement,” said Holt who will be heading to nationals for the first time.

Aris Haraga, 12, will also be joining his teammates, this is the second time he has been able to go. While he’s still new to the sport he says there are aspects that really make him stand out as an athlete.

“I’m new, but I have a lot of strength,” he added.

Climbing for nearly five years, TJ Foley, 14, is no spring chicken to being at nationals, and has been multiple times. Before climbing he was involved in gymnastics, which he said helped him with the transition.

“I like the creativity of the routes, it’s not just pull hard on small holes, it’s thinking of the craziest way you can do this. You see people jumping across the wall, running across the wall — all that fun stuff. It really gets your head working,” said Foley.

Taryn Chaney, 14, went to nationals last year, and this year she hopes to improve and showcase the new skills she has learned.

“I just want to have fun and try my best,” she said. “I’m really flexible and I can sometimes break beta and do some pretty cool things.”

Seeing his students move on to compete at a national level, McArthur said he couldn’t be more proud.

“It is so amazing to see them grow and develop their skills in climbing and as human beings — it’s a treat. When they succeed it’s almost like you get caught up in the moment with them, it’s pretty fun,” he said.

McArthur is confident in the athletes as they head to the championship because of their strength as an athlete and their mindset.

“They are so excited to go there that it gives them a bit of extra superhuman power,” he said. “They are also very dedicated to the sport so I think their commitment tells their own story.”


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