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Sugar House Journal

Brothers compete nationally in sport climbing

Oct 26, 2018 12h31 ● By Jana Klopsch

Isaac Buehner tried basketball as a sport, but found himself more at home with sport climbing. (Ron Bevan/City Journals)

By Ron Bevan | [email protected]

Youth begin competing in athletics at a young age, honing skills in soccer, baseball, basketball and football. They hope someday to represent their high schools in their chosen athletic endeavor.

For Ian and Isaac Buehner, the competition keeps them practicing weekly. And although the two teenagers do not represent their schools, they have made names for themselves nationally. The Buehners compete in sport climbing, a sport the two picked up from their parents.

“We started climbing as a family when we lived in upstate New York,” said Meridith Buehner, their mom,. “The winters there were cold, wet and long. There was a climbing gym close to us, so we began going there and trying it out.”

Although Meridith and her husband Daniel grew up in Utah, climbing wasn’t a passion for them until later in life.

“It’s kind of amazing that we grew up here and even though we have some of the best climbing areas in the world, it wasn’t until New York that we found the sport,” Meridith said.

The sport continued to be an important family function when they moved back to Utah, and soon Ian and Isaac found they could compete against others.

“We just kept climbing when we came back,” Meridith said. “This way the kids could be together as opposed to running all over town to do different sports.”

“I tried doing basketball for a little while, but there is something about climbing that is different and perfect for me,” Isaac said. “I like climbing because you can choose how you proceed. You don’t have to go through all the steps and progressions as you do in other sports.”

Ian also tried another sport and returned to climbing.

“I played flag football, but that got pretty boring,” Ian said. “I am good at climbing. It is more fun than all the other sports. I can set goals for myself and watch myself get them. Climbing kind of makes me who I am.”

While Isaac, 14, and Ian, 12, compete in different age groups, they do compete at the same events. Meridith stays in the sport by helping arrange local competitions.

“Basically, I contact the gyms in our region and set up schedules for when they can host competitions,” Meridith said. 

Gyms in the region, known as the Mountain West Region, stretch through five states: Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

Each year there is a national meet, consisting of the top six climbers from a division. Both Ian and Isaac competed this year in the national tournament, held this summer in Georgia.

“It is kind of a huge deal to make it to the nationals,” Meridith said. Two different regions make up a division and only the top six kids from the division get to go to nationals. “We have some of the top climbers in the world in our division when you look at the mountainous states we have around us.”