Climbing her way to the top

Sac State’s rock climbing club president Ashlyn Palmero places first in competition


Eucario Calderon - The State Hornet

Ashlyn Palmero, president of Sac State’s rock climbing club, took first place in the USA Climbing Collegiate Local Season competition for northern California and Nevada.

Margherita Beale

On the heels of winning the first two in a series of regional competitions, Ashlyn Palmero said what she likes most about rock climbing is the community and the culture.

For Palmero, a graphic design major and president of Sacramento State’s rock climbing club, climbing culture goes beyond the sport, extending itself into other aspects of life.

“Going outdoors, hiking and having that adventure: That’s what rock climbing is,” Palmero said. “There’s always something new. It’s not like it ever gets old or becomes inaccessible. There’s always a gym, you can always go outside and it’s welcome to any age.”

On Oct. 20, the rock climbing wall at The WELL hosted its “Go Bould’er Go Home” climbing competition, the first of several scheduled USA Climbing Collegiate regional season competitions where members of the Sac State’s rock climbing team compete. The event attracted athletes from various colleges including Humboldt State University, Stanford University, University of California, Davis and University of Nevada, Reno.

Palmero’s rock climbing discipline is bouldering, where one climbs about 13 feet without any harnesses or ropes, she said.

At the home competition, Palmero gained the most points by climbing more challenging climbs than her competitors, placing first in the women’s advanced category.

“We had 50 routes that we could climb and what you’re trying to do is get the most points possible,” Palmero said. “You do that by completing the most climbs and trying to do that without falling, because you get points deducted any time you have to start over.”

During the beginning of the Oct. 20 competition, Palmero said she didn’t feel like she was climbing well. When she saw her friend and competitor from UC Davis starting to complete some of the climbs she couldn’t, it motivated her to try them again.

Photo courtesy of Nic Crumley
President of Sac State’s rock climbing club Ashlyn Palmero has been rock climbing since she was 14 years old. On Oct. 20, she placed first in the USA Climbing Collegiate Local Season competition for northern California and Nevada.

“Even though it’s a competition and we want to win, it’s not just one team versus another,” Palmero said. “We’re all working together, because that’s what the whole climbing community is. People encouraging each other to get stronger.”

Palmero also took first place in her category at the second regional competition of the semester held at UNR on Oct. 27.

According to the club’s coach and climbing wall coordinator at The WELL Garrett Werner, Palmero’s first-place finishes help her overall ranking and Sac State’s standing within the USA Climbing collegiate level rankings as a whole.

“It definitely helps the team out when we have someone like Ashlyn competing,” Werner said. “She’s a very determined individual. She’s the example of what you can do. She’s really pushing people and motivating them to make it to the competition and the practices.”

Palmero said she took up rock climbing when she was 14 years old. It wasn’t until she started at Sac State that she began taking it seriously, she said.

Before starting college, Palmero said she never fully transitioned from training to the gym to climbing outside.

She says that rock climbing has transitioned into an outdoor sort of lifestyle.

Now 20 years old, Palmero has been president of the rock climbing club for two years and works as a youth team leader at the Boulder Field Climbing Gym in Sacramento.

Sac State’s rock climbing club was formed when The WELL first opened in 2010 and is open to climbers of all skill levels, according to the club’s information page. The club meets for official practice once a week in The WELL.

“It’s student-run, but we still compete on a local, regional and national level,” Palmero said. “It’s more than just a recreational club that would do rock climbing just for fun.”

According to Werner, many students who join the club begin casually and improve quickly, often moving on to competitive climbing.

Palmero said she hopes that her team will make it to the national competition in April and have a successful season.