They have fingers of bats, legs like hydraulics and arms like apes. They cling like flies. They hang like sloths. They are Heritage Rock Climbing Club.
This group of kids meets every Tuesday in the climbing gym at 5 p.m. and climbs until 7 p.m. Some also go to Rock’n and Jam’n on Friday nights to take advantage of the student discount. HHS RCC puts their practice to work by participating in climbing competitions around the South Denver area. The girls of the club took second at a bouldering competition on January 18. Then on January 25, the club took third overall.
“I love meeting people at the competitions,” says Audrey Larson ’14, one of the girls who helped take second at the January 18 competition.
Coach Royce, a retired Heritage teacher, was instrumental in the creation of the wall and the class. The first wall was installed in 1994 and consisted of the “prow,” a wall pitched, or slanted, at a 15 degree angle and the “slab,” a vertical wall. Both are about 40 feet tall.
Dr. Veech, a helpful vice principal, then helped extend the wall by adding the “cave,” a wall that starts vertical and the pitches to 15 degrees followed by a 45 degree pitch at the top. All the holds, or rocks, were donated by students or Coach Royce. The holds have the students’ name and year on the back of them.
After-school climbing started in 1994 as a way for kids to make up classes. The small climbing fee helps with the upkeep of the wall, harnesses, rope and equipment.
“The Tuesday night climbing is also my time to climb and play myself,” says Coach Royce.
Coach Lee took over the class in fall 2004 after taking the class herself. She has taught the class and continued the after school sessions.
“I had never climbed before; it was scary,” Coach Lee recounts
On each wall there are many routes. Routes consist of holds marked with specific symbols. If the route is marked “yellow =” then students can only use holds with a yellow “=” next to it.
In addition to the three walls, there is a section of wall above the prow with a 90 degree pitch. In other words it is suspended, upside down from the roof bracing of the C-gym. Understandably this is one of the hardest routes on the wall.
The after school climbing sessions officially became a club when Erik Gentile ’14 and Larson approached Coach Lee in August 2013 with the prospect of creating a climbing club to participate in competitions.
Coach Lee agreed to sponsor the club. Her official title is Executive Director. Coach Royce helps the experienced climbers with technical aspects and climbing tips. His official title is Commander in Chief. The student leadership of HHS RCC is as follows:
Erik Gentile ’14 President Founding Captain
Audrey Larson ’14 Arch Duchess
Hunter Lee ’14 Duke
Ben Merrill ’14 Vice Tsar
Jess Benton ’15 Sans Titre
Meg Claren ’14 Court Jester
Jevin Austin ’15 General
Jackson Buckner ’14 Admiral
Anybody is welcome to come and climb, but previous belay experience is required in order to belay others. The cost is three dollars each night.by