It’s not like Megan Mascarenas was hiding, but unless you participated in youth competitions, you might never have heard her name until last summer. The 18-year-old from Colorado Springs was a four-time national champion in bouldering in her age group, and in 2014 she finished fourth in a World Cup in Vail, Colorado. But 2015 brought her to a whole new level.
After wining her age group again at ABS nationals, Mascarenas shot into the public eye by winning the 2015 Vail World Cup in June. She followed that up with a trip to Europe in August, where a third-place finish in Munich catapulted her into fifth on the world ranking, despite only doing two of the five Bouldering World Cups last season. She also won the high-powered Adidas Rockstars invitational in a head-to-head finale with world champion Akiyo Noguchi, executing a wildly creative foot-first mantel to top out (watch the video above to see it—the best action starts around 3:30). On January 30, 2016, Mascarenas added a new title to her laurels: national champion in bouldering, winning the ABS Nationals in Madison, Wisconsin.
Though she’s still in high school, Mascarenas’ success was built on a deep foundation. “I’ve been climbing for over 15 years,” she said. “I practically grew up in my home gym, the Sport Climbing Center. Furthermore, almost everybody in my family climbs! Parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, you name it. I can almost guarantee somebody I’m related to will be at the gym when I go.”
Mascarenas said she trains four to five days a week, almost exclusively by climbing. She climbs hard outside too. She’s done half a dozen or so V12 problems, mostly in Colorado, and sent her first V13 last August: Riverbed at Magic Wood in Switzerland. “I wish I had more time to get out on real rock, but in the winter, all the warmer areas are farther away,” she said. “And I do enjoy competition climbing. Comps offer new challenges I can’t find anywhere else in my life; I love trying new things and having no idea what to expect before seeing the comp routes.”
This year will bring fresh challenges for Mascarenas as she graduates high school and prepares for college. (“Currently I am thinking of pursuing either biophysics or a profession in the medical field.”) And look out world: Mascarenas is gunning for more international comps. “I hope to be able to complete the whole World Cup circuit this year and travel wherever that takes me!”
Recent Golden Pitons for Breakthrough Performance
Libby Sauter (2014)
Alex Megos (2013)
Cameron Hörst, Brooke Raboutou, Ashima Shiraishi (2012)
Sasha Digiulian (2011)
Kyle Dempster (2010)