It was one hot climb

Running the stairs of his Washington State University dorm has paid off for Bryce Hansen.

The 19-year-old Freeland resident and member of Island County Fire District 3 placed 35th Sunday out of 757 firefighters at the 12th annual Firefighters Challenge climb of the Bank of America Tower.

It was his third climb up the 69 flights of stairs, and his best finish yet.

"It's pretty challenging," he said. "A lot of people decide 'one year's enough for me.'"

Hansen said he climbed 104 flights of stairs every day to practice for the big day.

Firefighters complete in the climb wearing all of their gear and apparatus, said Fire District 3 Captain Mike Cotton. The gear can add approximately 45 pounds to a climb. Firefighters not only have to climb with the equipment; they have to use it. They are required to breath through respirators on the climb and must stop halfway up to change air bottles.

Two other firefighters from Fire District 3 joined Hansen, Charles Bieber, 61, and Dillon Rogers, 28, both of Clinton. Bieber finished in 28:45 and Rogers came in at 34:35.

"I'll train harder next year," said Rogers, a first-time participant. "It was one of the hardest things I've ever done."

The climb is one of two done at the tower each year. Another climb is unencumbered. Climbers wearing running gear are typically twice as fast as firefighters.

The climb is a fundraiser, with pledges gathered by participants going to the Washington/Alaska Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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