Child climbing prodigy ranks top in the nation |

Child climbing prodigy ranks top in the nation

Just when you thought you had seen all the wonders of nature that Lake Tahoe has to offer, here’s one you probably missed – a third-grader hanging from the side of Cave Rock.

When Scott Cory says he wants to visit Lake Tahoe to hang out with friends, he means that literally. The 8-year-old is the top-ranked rock climber in the nation in the 11-under age group – an athletic prodigy who is a member of the United States Youth Climbing Team, and already has four national sponsors.

Their hometown is Brentwood in the East Bay, but the Cory family considers Lake Tahoe their spiritual center of sorts, and Scott’s climbing headquarters. He’s been doing it for about a year – showing such an aptitude for scaling great heights that he has already surpassed some veteran climbers four times his age.

“He has a huge passion for climbing,” said his mother, Jennifer. “It’s what he does for fun, and all the people he meets up there are his friends.”

Youth climbing is a fairly popular sport these days, and most kids get into it because a parent or older friend is a climber. But that was not the case with Scott.

No one in the family had ever climbed anything more challenging than a ladder when the Corys decided to visit Squaw Valley one day last year. There they saw the resort’s climbing wall, and decided to try it.

“It was the first time for all of us, and after a few minutes Scott just looked at us and said ‘See ya!’,” said his father, Jim. “He took off to the top.”

He showed such an aptitude that his parents enrolled him climbing classes at a gym in San Francisco.

“The instructor told us he was a natural, but I was skeptical,” Jennifer said. “But it turns out he has a gift for it. He just goes and goes and never seems to get tired. He works so hard at it.”

Indeed, Scott is so determined that the Corys often get withering glances from other parents, who assume that the boy is being pushed at the expense of other childhood pursuits.

“But then they get to know Scott, and they start to get it,” Jennifer said. “Then it’s, ‘Oh, those poor parents. When will Scott let them go home?’ “

For his part, Scott says that he climbs for the fun of it.

“It’s a great way to meet new friends, and it’s challenging,” he said. “Cave Rock is one of my favorite places to climb, because you can work on a lot of different levels.”

On Friday, despite chilly conditions, Scott tackled the “Asylum” climb as a practice run for Saturday’s Junior Competition Climbing Association meet in Reno.

He won the Northern California Regional Championship earlier this year, despite being the youngest ranked competitor in the nation.

“But for Scott, it’s not about winning,” said his father. “He loves meeting all of the different competitors, and many of them are his friends; from kids his age to men and women in their 50s. It’s an ageless sport.”

The family has a home at Incline, and makes numerous trips to Tahoe every year, including “just about every weekend in the summer.”

But will that change as Scott climbs higher on the competition ladder? He already has endorsement deals from companies such as The North Face, which supplies most of his clothes and gear, and Petzl, which gives him his equipment.

But this is one Spider-Boy who does not seem like he will let fame sweep him away. He just likes to climb – and Lake Tahoe is his favorite place for that.

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