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He’s on a roll on the rocks

A Granite Bay teenager is making a quick ascent in sport climbing
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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Joseph Diaz has always been a climber.

“Since he was born,” said his dad, James.

James and wife Susan often wondered where their son was, and oftentimes, all they had to do was look up to the top of two good-sized redwoods in their yard.

“He’d be in the top of the redwoods swaying in the wind, scaring the devil out of his mom,” James Diaz said of his son. “It seems he was always climbing trees.”

The recent graduate of Cavitt Junior High School and soon-to-be freshman at Granite Bay High School climbs rock-filled walls now. He’s a member of the Granite Arch team that is competing this weekend in the Sport Climbing Series Divisional Championship in Salt Lake City.

Joseph qualified by finishing an all-time-best third in the Male Youth B category, for boys ages 12-14, at the NorCal Youth Regionals in Reno. He’s ranked in the top 25 nationally in his category and hopes to qualify for the National Championship from July 7-10 at Stone Summit in Atlanta. He’ll compete in speed and lead climbing.

“He’s really good for his age. I’m very impressed by him, but don’t tell him that,” said smiling Cambria Cesaretti, who’s been climbing since she was 3 years old and is Joseph’s coach. “He has excellent technique.”

Joseph, two teammates and Cesaretti were practicing speed climbing, which some may recognize from the X Games, on Tuesday at Granite Arch in Rancho Cordova, and he ascended the 25-foot wall like a spider avoiding a shoe. Joseph rings the bell at 25 feet in anywhere from seven to nine seconds.

“I don’t see how they get up there so darn fast,” James Diaz said. “It’s something to see.”

Joseph’s trips to Granite Arch started with birthday parties about four years ago. James Diaz said his son gravitated to rock climbing.

Joseph said he likes lead climbing because, “It’s harder.” Lead climbers have a rope during their climb and clip the rope as they ascend. He said he does it for fun and competition.

“When I do lead, I hang with one hand and clip with the other,” Joseph said.

Joseph has won ribbons and medals at Sacramento Pipeworks, Pacific Edge in Santa Cruz, Twisters in Mountain View, Rocknasium in Davis and Rocksport in Reno.

He was introduced to soccer and gymnastics as a youngster, but …

“He got really tired of it,” his dad said, adding that Joseph likes the challenge of rock climbing. “It’s not the time it takes. It’s just getting from point A to B. It doesn’t matter how.”