Climbing stars test the walls at Englewood gym

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Englewood is home to the largest rock climbing gym in the country and some of the sport's biggest stars came out Tuesday night for its first annual climbing competition.

Climbing fans lined up outside Earth Treks Englewood for a spot inside to watch pros like Ashima Shiraishi climb the walls. Shiraishi recently won the 2019 Bouldering National Championships and competes as part of Team USA, which is vying for a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics when competition climbing makes its debut.

At just 17 years old, she is considered one of the best in the world.

“I think it’s cool how some people start climbing at like 6 and some people start climbing at 40, you know? There’s no, like, certain age,” Shiraishi told FOX31.

She competed in the bouldering part of Tuesday’s competition. The objective is to complete a challenging series of moves on a short wall without falling off. The hardest routes often require climbers to position themselves upside down or with their legs above their arms. It requires an immense amount of strength.

The event also featured appearances by veteran pro climbers like Lynn Hill, the first person to free ascend a route on El Capitan called "The Nose," and Alex Honnold, the only person to climb El Capitan without the use of ropes. Honnold is also the subject of the Academy Award winning documentary "Free Solo."

“If I was good enough, I would do the Olympics but I’m too old, too tired, too weak,” Honnold told FOX31.

He compares the different climbing styles to running. His style of climbing big walls is like running an ultra-marathon, while Shiraishi’s style is more like a 100-meter sprint.

“Ashima is a lot better than I ever was. [She has] climbed way harder than I have. [She] just hasn’t climbed as tall of things,” Honnold said.

Climbers also competed at Earth Trek’s “The Hang” competition in speed climbing. The object is to ascend the wall as fast as possible. The best climbers are able to get to the top of the 49-foot wall in as little as seven seconds.

“Climbing has been blowing up for sure. I think a lot of that has to do with growth of facilities like this, nice climbing gyms in nice urban markets,” Honnold said.

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