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Nelson's Tula Sherkat climbs her way to Italy

Tula Sherkat of Nelson is off to Italy to represent Team Canada at the Youth World Climbing Championships. — Photo courtesy Stephanie Larbalestier

It’s not one of the more traditional sports catching the eyes of Nelson youth, but for Tula Sherkat climbing has been a passion just months after learning to walk.

And now the 14-year-old Nelson climber is going to use that knowledge for Team Canada next month as she compete for her country at the Youth World Climbing Championships in Arco Italy.

“Being in Arco (Italy) will be very interesting and to be there for Worlds is still mind-blowing for me,” Sherkat told The Nelson Daily from Vancouver as she trains for the upcoming World Championships.

It’s not like Sherkat is new to climbing. The Grade 10 L.V. Rogers student has been climbing since she was two years old and entered her first competition at eight.

“I was first attracted to climbing through my family and love of the outdoors,” the five-foot tall Sherkat said.

“When I first got exposed to competition climbing, I was a gymnast watching my brother compete. I remember thinking that it looked interesting and tried my first competition when I was eight.”

The Youth World Climbing Championships are expected to attract more than 1,000 competitors from 50 countries.

Sherkat, who will compete for Canada in the Boulder event, qualified for Worlds at the recent Team Canada Selection Camp in June. Bouldering is a form of rock climbing where competitors use small rock formations or artificial rock walls, known as boulders, without the use of ropes or harnesses.

The five-day selection camp allowed athletes to build National ranking points that would be used by coaches to select the team.

“Days one and two were qualification for bouldering, and day three was qualification for lead and speed climbing,” Sherkat explained.

“On these days, how you did in the selection competitions gave you a certain number of points that would be added to your National ranking.”

Day three focused on Speed Climbing before the camp turned to bouldering, Sherkat’s specialty.

“This is when there are four or five bouldering problems on the wall and the results are based on how many tops and zones you get and in how many attempts,” Sherkat said.

“Zones are a hold that are typically in the middle of a boulder problem.”

The love of training and working out are drivers that keep Sherkat wanting to improve in the sport.

“Climbing is also a very mental sport,” she said. “You have to only focus on what’s in front of you and have to think about every single possibility of how you can put the ‘puzzle’ (climb) together.”

Sherkat said she’s agrees with the notionthat 85% of the challenge is how you are mentally. Example: If you’re positive, feelings towards the climb, how you hold yourself physically and mentally at a competition.

“For me, this is one of the aspects of climbing that I find the most challenging but one of my favourite parts,” Sherkat explains.

“Another part of climbing that keeps me in the sport is the camaraderie. I’ve met so many amazing people across the world through this sport as well as some of my best friends.”

The Youth World Climbing Championships in Italy are set for August 22-31.

To prepare, the five-foot Sherkat will train up to six days a week for at least three hours each session in Calgary.

“I love to train and work out,” Sherkat said.

“Climbing is also a very mental sport. You have to only focus on what’s in front of you and have to think about every single possibility of how you can put the ‘puzzle’ (climb) together.”

Tula  Sherkat  scales the climbing wall during a competition at the Project Climbing Centre in Abbotsford. — Photo courtesy Wayne Takashiba