BOZEMAN –The sport of bouldering is a climbing sport that outsiders could liken to climbing a jungle gym on steroids.
It requires a unique balance of physical and mental toughness, and few in the country are better than 12-year-old Bozeman native Klara Dumbrovska. She has been climbing since she was 3 and finished 10th at the national championships in Salt Lake City last weekend. Although finishing in the top 20 percent of national finalists in her age bracket, she didn’t expect those results entering the weekend.
“I wasn’t going into the competition with high expectations,” she said. “I was really surprised with how I ended up doing, so I’m really happy with (the outcome).”
The goal of bouldering is to solve what are called puzzles, which are designated rock patterns, in as few moves as possible. In Dumbrovska’s instance, she had four minutes to solve every puzzle at nationals, meaning the bigger the risk, the better the score.
“You get partial points taken away every attempt you take to get to your high point on the boulder,” said Dumbrovska’s climbing coach, Taylor Fragomeni. “Sometimes, (the final positions) are separated by just a tenth of a point.”
Dumbrovska became the first girl from the Spire Climbing Center in Bozeman to ever qualify for nationals and represented her hometown well on the sport’s biggest stage. Her performance officially put her among the elite boulderers in all of the United States. Fragomeni knew from the moment she started working with Dumbrovska that this day would come.
“She just understands movements super well,” Fragomeni explained. “She has worked very hard this last year to get to where she is now.”
After seeing what she could do this past weekend, she is still a far climb from where she hopes to be one day.
“I would like to make the US team, (and) that’s top four in the nation,” Dumbrovska said. “I think, if I train hard, that I could maybe do it.”
Like any obstacle in bouldering, it’s right in her grasp.