DeVore takes hold of National Climbing competition |

DeVore takes hold of National Climbing competition

Tim Mutrie

The rules of competitive sport climbing are simple: whoever climbs highest wins. Climbing the highest is what Aspen native Nick DeVore did at a junior Coup de Monde D’Escalade (World Cup of Climbing) in Chamonix, France last July, and it’s what he intends to do in Berkeley, Calif. this weekend at U.S. Junior Nationals.

DeVore, a sophomore at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) in Carbondale, will be pitted against the top climbers in the nation for an opportunity to compete at the Junior Worlds, set for late June in Austria.

The 15-year-old DeVore grew up climbing in the Aspen area, first on the wall at the Red Brick Gym and later outdoors with the likes of Dick Jackson of Aspen Expeditions and Hermann Gollner, a longtime area ski coach and climber. Competitive climbing, however, wasn’t on his radar until last year, when the DeVore family spent a year living in Chamonix.

“I used to climb a lot,” DeVore said this week, “but when I moved there, I started climbing seriously, doing competitions.”

Because of Aspen’s sister city relationship with the French mountain community, DeVore was afforded an opportunity to climb and train with the Chamonix Climbing Team. He took full advantage, hitting his peak July 14, 2000, when he won his junior division of Chamonix’s Coup de Monde D’Escalade. And by finishing ahead of an upwardly mobile Frenchman – the reigning Junior World climbing champion – DeVore earned an invitation to join the French National Team and to compete in the country’s National competition. His American citizenship – or more accurately his unwillingness to part with it – forced him to decline the offer.

“I qualified, but I couldn’t compete,” he said.

In an interesting twist to the 2001 U.S. Nationals, this year’s competition is open only to climbers who competed in the 2000 event, in order to field the American team in time for Junior Worlds. By that logic, DeVore misses the cut, but his Coup de Monde title carried enough weight across the Atlantic to earn him an invite.

“I’m sort of nervous, but I’m trying not to be,” DeVore said. “Whatever happens, happens and it’s all fun.”

DeVore is also a member of the CRMS climbing team, which may be the only high school team of its kind in the state. The team, now entering its second season, competes in the Junior Competitive Climbing Association during the spring season.

“The level Nick is competing at, well, there aren’t many kids at that level,” said CRMS climbing coach Dave Meyer, who’s also an American History teacher. “Talent-wise, he can climb as well as virtually anyone in his age group in the country. At Nationals, it’ll depend on his mental toughness and training.”

At Nationals, Meyer said there will be one qualifying route, and then two final routes. The winner is whoever controls the highest hold on each route; which are typically pegged up indoor walls and kept hidden from each climber until it is his or her turn to solve it.

“That makes it fair for everyone,” said DeVore, who also skis and plays soccer for CRMS. “The judges make their own routes and no one knows what to expect.”

DeVore says he enjoys competitive climbing, but he really just loves to climb.

“I don’t know if I’ll stick with competing, but I’ll definitely stick with climbing,” he said. “Climbing is not a competitive sport, everyone’s friendly. But sometimes you get people who are way too serious at these competitions. I just like to climb outside and have fun. Though usually after I compete, I think it’s fun. That’s if I do well.”

DeVore’s climber’s-climber attitude is further evidenced when he describes how he’s preparing for this weekend’s Nationals.

“I haven’t been training, really. I’ve just been climbing.”

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