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Mt. Lemmon's Tanner Mack climbing high

Posted at 3:41 PM, Mar 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 17:41:23-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -  Tanner Mack climbed on anything he could find growing up. 

"I'd climb trees, rocks, anything," he recalls.

The Mount Lemmon-raised teenager was destined to climb.  At the age of 7, a family friend saw Tanner's passion and took him to a nearby boulder.

"He tied me to a rope and said start climbing," Tanner says.

And while he admits he was afraid of heights early in his climbing career, "fear" is hardly in Tanner's vocabulary today. 
"It's like a gymnast in the middle of their flip: they're not really thinking, they're just executing. That's what climbing is like."
The 16-year old Summerhaven resident has all the real estate a climber could ask for in his own backyard. 
"Most people have to drive 30-40 minutes to get to a place to climb, I have to walk 5 minutes."
The training Tanner puts in, whether at a nearby boulder or his home gym, Rocks and Ropes, has made him the best climber in southern Arizona and the 11th ranked youth climber in the United States.  
If rock climbing makes the ticket for the 2020 Olympics, which is decided in August, Tanner should be in good position to qualify. 
"I should technically be at my strongest point then, so I should have a good chance of making the Olympics and competing," Tanner says.
But unlike many young athletes, the Olympic dream isn't Tanner's lifelong dream. 
"My ultimate goal is just to climb forever and be happy with it."