Griffin Barros-King is a sophomore honors and AP student who lives a pretty unique life outside of the classroom. Three or four times per week he and his parents travel north to Madison Heights, Michigan, where Griffin participates in three-hour rock climbing sessions. That indoor facility is the closest location with official speed climbing and bouldering walls, which are Griffin’s two competitive events. Bouldering is a free-climb without ropes in which the climber can choose a path using various handholds and footholds. Speed climbing, as the name suggests, is the rapid ascent of a 15-meter wall. (Griffin’s personal best is 7.58 seconds.) The layout of the handholds used in international competitions is identical to within a couple centimeters, so the hours of training translate to muscle memory for the fastest climbers.
What began as something fun to do while he was in elementary school in Pennsylvania has become a major part of Griffin’s life, and his commitment has paid off. Griffin has become an elite climber. After finishing 5th and 3rd in the nation respectively in the bouldering and speed climbing events, Griffin was invited to compete in the Youth Climbing World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. Competing against 135 other climbers his age and a year older from around the world, Griffin finished 51st in bouldering and 19th in speed climbing.
Although Griffin’s results are better in speed climbing, he prefers bouldering because it is “more fun and offers more variety.” Griffin says, “The coolest thing is that you meet people of a common interest from all over the world. It is such a welcoming environment.” Griffin continues to enjoy the challenge that competitive climbing offers. He believes it is great for goal-setting, and it is a small community of great people. Griffin’s next international competition will be at the Pan-American Championships in Montreal this November.