Building a future for youth ice climbing in Durango
When one of the kids he’d trained beat him at the Ouray Ice Festival competition in 2018 and again in 2019, core climber Marcus Garcia beamed with pride. “That was my biggest achievement yet,” he says. Garcia has put up over 200 first ascents in his decades long rock, ice and mixed-terrain climbing career, and is currently ranked sixth in the world in the ultra-daring discipline of speed ice climbing. His real legacy, though, will surely be his contribution to youth climbing.
Garcia bought The Rock Lounge in downtown Durango in 2017 because he wanted to see more young athletes excel in climbing. Donating lessons and used gear wasn’t cutting it, so this year, he founded Kidz Rock, a nonprofit aiming to “pick up the bill” for budding climbers who would otherwise struggle to enter into a costly sport like climbing. As a coach for Team USA Youth Ice Climbing, Garcia has helped dozens of youth excel athletically — but the big payoff has been watching mentees develop confidence, self-esteem and other “life” skills. Ice climbing is all about “finding out who is inside,” as Garcia puts it. “Here they are with sharp objects in hand, in a cold environment they can’t control, and the kids I train have to learn to persevere.”