Vermont’s high school rock climbing teams are aiming to reach the top together | Sports

RUTLAND — The Vermont state championships for high school rock climbing were held Saturday at Green Mountain Rock Climbing Center in Rutland. It was Green Mountain Union High School that claimed the first-place trophy, but as appears to be the sentiment at all rock climbing events, everyone carried something away from it.

Though rock climbing in the state has come a long way from its humble beginnings – growing from just two teams in the late ‘90s to eight today – it is not a varsity sport in Vermont. After recent ugly events in other sports in the state, the sportsmanship, collaboration and unity – not only between teammates, but all athletes present – was a breath of fresh air.

“These kids and coaches are cheering for each other,” said Tom Klein, Burr and Burton Academy’s assistant coach. “They’re not looking at a person that climbs something they can’t climb and saying, ‘Oh that person’s a jerk, that person’s a cheater.’

“They’re thinking, ‘My goodness, that person from this other school is really strong. I want to celebrate that. I want to be that strong.’ And I think that’s one of the many reasons this is a uniquely great sport.”

There may be no better illustration of the spirit of cooperation the sport fosters than climbers putting their safety in the hands of an athlete from another school. For the uninitiated, climbers work together in teams, a “climber” and a “belayer.” The belayer is the climber’s anchor and puts tension on the safety rope in the event the climber is about to fall. In Vermont, athletes from opposing teams are paired together.

“We’re here to compete, but we’re not actually competing. We’re here to get up the wall,” said Josh Vann, coach at Long Trail School. “We’re helping each other best our scores. Whoever wins at the end is going to be happy for everybody.”

The prevailing attitude displayed by the athletes was similar to that seen in…


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