By Lee J. Kahrs
PITTSFORD — The email was simple enough —“ Patrick Daly of Pittsford will be competing in the USA Sport Climbing National Competition in Atlanta, Ga., on July 14-18.”
And then there was the photo.
Patrick Daly is 9 years old. And he’s been climbing for six years.
“His older brother Michael climbed competitively for six years,” explained Patrick’s mother, Margaret, in a phone interview Saturday. “I just took Patrick along to the climbing center and he started climbing, too.”
Michael Daly, 16, is a junior at Otter Valley Union High School, and climbs with the OV Rock Climbing Club. He has competed in regional climbing competitions.
Patrick qualified to climb at the nationals event by placing fifth in his age group at the Northeast (New England and New York) Divisional competition in June. Patrick climbs for the Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center Extreme Team in Rutland and the Lothrop Rock Climbing Team.
He will be in fourth-grade at Lothrop Elementary School this fall.
Patrick was asked what he likes about the sport.
“I think I like that it was more of a challenge to me than other sports,” he said.
His mom said they had been talking just the night before about why rock climbing is so much fun for Patrick.
“We were saying that it’s kind of like putting a puzzle together,” she said.
In competition, climbers are scored by the number of holds they get as they make their way up the wall in a set amount of time, usually five minutes.
Patrick said he climbs outdoors as well, although not as often, and likes to climb at Deer Leap Rock off Route 4 in Killington.
“Do you ever fall,” he was asked.
“Yes,” Patrick said.
“Yes,” he replied. “But there are safety ropes, and outside you have to wear a helmet.”
Margaret Daly said Patrick had to place in the top 10 in the regional competition that includes young climbers from Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Western Massachusetts. Then he went to the Divisional Competition that included all of New England and New York state and had to place in the top six to go to Nationals. He placed fifth.
Patrick weighs 65 pounds and said he can feel himself improving and getting stronger as he gets older. He credits his coach, Jason Hayden, for helping him improve his climbing skills.
And someday, he may even be able to beat his big brother? “I hope!” Patrick said.