At Steepworld Climbing & Fitness in Billings, competitors are climbing their way to the top. The 2021 Montana Bouldering Championship was held Saturday and youth from all over Montana came to win.
The hobby of bouldering has exploded across the world in recent years. It was one of the three sport-climbing disciplines in the Olympics.
“So bouldering is basically climbing high degrees of difficulty with no technical equipment. You see the kids that are here, they have climbing shoes and then chalk, but really that’s it. Lower elevation, higher degree of difficulty,” said co-owner of Steepworld, Jim Rott.
Kids have traveled from as far as Salt Lake City for the 2021 Montana Bouldering Championship.
“This is also a regional qualifier for USA climbing, so the kids here participate for points to qualify for regionals which takes place next month,” Rott said.
Kids like Tobin Ide, who’s a part of the Bozeman Climbing Team, are hoping to score enough points to make it to regionals.
“I put all my heart and soul into it and I’ve just loved it. The team and the community has been so good in Bozeman. It’s kept me going strong and wanting to climb and train super hard,” Ide said.
Ide’s been climbing for about two years now. Many of these kids have been climbing since they could walk while some are just starting to get into it.
Maya Kane is on the SteepTeam from Billings and has been climbing competitively for about a year now.
“It was tons of fun. I’ve made it to the zone on a couple routes,” said Kane.
It’s fun but not easy. Bouldering takes discipline and there are hard parts to it. Kane said the hardest part for her is the exhaustion.
“Probably when you’re tired just the urge to let go and just drop, but having to keep going even when like your arms are burnt and you just want to let go,” Kane said.
The championship is also a fundraiser for the SteepTeam, a nonprofit program that provides climbing mentorship and training to youth in the Billings area. The SteepTeam has been around for about 10 years.
“We have coaches now that are actually former team members. Our head setter now, he was a former team member when he was 10,” Rott said.
Proceeds from the championship’s raffle and silent auction will go directly to the SteepTeam.
When it comes to the competition, Ide is excited.
“I’m warmed up and ready to go,” Ide said.
His team will be headed to Boise, Idaho, next month for the regional competition. He hopes they qualify for the divisional competition, and then finally, the national competition.