Great State: Prairie Climber

Posted on: 12:59 pm, July 11, 2013, by

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — Tall grass and big skies, but little to climb.

That’s what people expect from prairie states like Oklahoma.

But inside this old grain elevator just south of downtown Oklahoma City we crashed a party for 13 year old Chloe Massenat.

We caught her breaking training with a bit of cookie cake but she deserves it.

Chloe just happens to be the best climber her age in the United States.

“Your almost forget being scared don’t you?” asks a visitor. “No,” she replies. “Since I was so young I didn’t even think about it.”

Her father Laurent brought Chloe to the Rocktown climbing gym for the first time 4 years ago.

Climbing coach Aaron Gibson noticed how relaxed she seemed even high above the floor.

“To give it a simple analogy, she was catlike or monkey like,” he smiles.

It wasn’t long before she was a member of the Rocktown Climbing Team, spending hours a day in the bouldering room or on one of the many difficult routes to the very top of the grain elevator.

“I’ve really liked it since I was really little,” she says. “It makes me happy.”

About that time other coaches like Chris Yates noticed something else about Chloe.

She always seemed to take a different route to the top than other climbers.

“She’s able to figure things out in a very Chloe way,” explains Yates. “When you see her move it’s very unique.”

So we climb the slope to a July weekend in 2013 at the Sport Climbing Series National Championships in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chloe faced an impossible climb that final day.

She didn’t have any idea how the other qualifiers had done.

She didn’t hear her father yelling louder the higher she got.

“You sound like a proud father,” says someone who just watched Laurent’s cell phone video of the event finals.

“I am,” he gushes. “I am indeed.”

Massenat didn’t have any idea she’d climbed higher than her competitors until she’d reached the ground.

“I didn’t really think about winning first place or anything,” she says matter of factly. “But things just happen.”

On the ground, even on the top of the podium, Chloe looks up to most people even her own age.

Give her something to climb though and there’s no telling how high she can go.

Massenat will be a 7th grader at Classen SAS this fall.

She’s been offered a spot on the U.S. Sport Climbing team.