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OUTDOORS

There may be no mountain high enough

The hiking Pollos
By: Amanda Calzada/Placer Herald Correspondent
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Before celebrating his 8th birthday last week, Zachery Pollo reached new heights by climbing the highest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney July 11. “I have a son that can do stuff 99 percent of things other kids can’t do,” laughed Jay Pollo, whose child has visited over 20 national parks and monuments ranging from Yosemite to Kings Canyon in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. The Rocklin Elementary third grader reached the Whitney’s peak of 14,508 feet above sea level with an elevation gain of 6,300 feet. He hiked 11 miles in a total time of seven hours, which included stops. Among the 39 mountains he has hiked, Mount Whitney is the one he is most proud of. The young Pollo said most people don’t know how hard hiking is. He said that while hiking, he wonders when he will reach the top to see the beautiful scenery. After hiking White Mountain Peak a year ago, the third tallest summit in the state, it motivated the family to hike Mount Whitney. The Pollos had also completed an 18 mile hike that included Snow Flower Peak in Nevada and Mount Rose Wilderness prior to hiking Whitney. When the Pollos started hiking, they had no idea of the accomplishments it would yield for their son. Jay Pollo, a former distance runner and bicycle rider for 30 years, decided to transition to hiking. He and his wife, Carrie, would ride together but decided hiking mountains would be a good family weekend activity. The Pollo family now completes class one and class two climbing in “scrambling to the top” style. They enjoy the bonding time and challenges that hiking brings. From day one, Zachery Pollo showed he was plenty strong enough for the activity. As an infant, Zachery Pollo was introduced to athletic competition. His father pushed him in a stroller through 15 races. Zachery started hiking in the Auburn Ravine as a 2-year-old and hiked his first mountain, Mount Juda at Donner Summit, at age 4. Since his first adventure, he has visited 20 national parks and monuments and hiked to the top of 39 mountains and mastered hiking tactics such as descending, “Zachery’s energy is never-ending,” said his mother, who was the district time trial champion in the NorCal/Nevada region from 1999-2001 in masters cycling. Biking, riding a scooter, golfing, swimming, and running intervals on the track are all hobbies the young Pollo enjoys outside of hiking. He raced the Clarksburg 5k at ages 5 and 6, the Urban Cow 5k at 6 and 7, the Whole Foods Family Fun Run 5k at 6, the Run Rocklin 5k at 7, and the Davis Stampede 10k at 6. Since 4, Pollo has competed in the Eppies kids duathalon, a race composed of a two-mile run and a six-mile bike leg. Zachery graduated from racing with training wheels to place fourth at age five and won the 7-and-under divisions at ages 6 and 7. He’s proud but humble. And he knows exactly what he has accomplished and has it measured down to the foot. “It’s 14,409 feet,” he told his parents, when they were considering Mount Rainier as a possible hiking site in the future. The family also dreams of reaching the summits of Shasta, McKinley, and Kilamanjaro. In October, the Pollos will race the Tour de Rocklin’s century distance. Last October, they rode the Davis Foxy Fall Century 100k. The family is also gearing up to hike their 49th mountain, Highland Peak near Ebbetts Pass, this Labor Day weekend. Pollo is the great-grandson of Olympic rowing gold medalist William Dally. “He always wants to go farther, longer, and higher,” said Carrie Pollo.