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Rock climbers make history at divisional championship

Rock climbers train at Stonetree Climbing Center.
Posted at 1:33 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 19:58:32-05

A group of young athletes in Helena are working to make a name for themselves in the growing sport of bouldering.

Leo Doolan and Shiri Franklin recently returned from Denver, Colorado where they competed in the USA Climbing Divisional Competition. There they faced other climbers in the fast growing sport.

At Stonetree Climbing Center, these young athletes are putting Helena on the map.

“It’s the first time in climbing history, at least in Helena, where multiple kids from Helena have qualified for divisionals from regionals and Shiri was actually the first female to ever qualify out of Helena,” says Jackson Wetherill, assistant coach at Stonetree.

Bouldering is a rock climbing sport. Athletes climb short, technically-difficult routes. They forgo the typical harness and ropes, only using climbing shoes and hand chalk to help with grip. Bouldering requires a mix of physical strength and problem solving skills to successfully complete the course.

“It felt really awesome because knowing that there's nobody my age that went to Denver was really cool and I was really proud of myself,” says Shiri, the 11-year-old rock climber.

Her coach was also proud and proud of the entire Helena team.

“It’s a really good feeling. It's good to see them latch onto the passion and for them to be excited about it and tell other people about it,” says Wetherill.

Unfortunately no members of the Helena team qualified for the national competition, but they will be competing in other rock climbing sports this spring and trying to make another successful run in regional and divisional competitions.