BILLINGS — From the little town of Story, Wyoming, Brad Burns, 23, experienced a climber’s dream, heading all the way to Majorca, Spain to be featured on a television show for climbers.
Burns never imagined he’d be putting his small town on the map when he was featured on the new eight-episode HBO Max series "The Climb."
“I didn’t expect that to be my role of representing Wyoming, and it ended up kind of being that way and it felt awesome,” he said.
The then 21-year-old was the youngest of 10 amateur climbers competing for $100,000 and a climbing sponsorship. Burns had only been climbing for four years at the time of filming.
“Some people had been climbing for literally, like longer than I’ve been alive,” Burns said.
Each week a climber would be sent home, and one week two climbers went home. That didn’t stop Burns from making each climb count, even if it was a learning curve climbing for a production, rather than fun. Burns credited his ability to focus his mindset onto completing the climb and not on what was around him.
“There’s like drones flying around, there’s camera men hanging from ropes… How am I supposed to hop on the rock and climb how I normally climb when all of these things are happening at the same time?” he said.
Burns is used to balancing several challenges at once. He picked up the sport when he was in high school, climbing in the nearby Big Horn Mountains. His passion for climbing only grew after he set off for college at MSU-Bozeman to pursue a degree in biology and neuroscience.
“We would all hang out until 10 p.m. and then I would go back to my room and study for a few hours and wake up at 6. So, my sleep wasn’t the best,” he said.
Burns took his "hardest" final while he was filming the show, but he says he would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Burns said it was the friendships that made the experience worthwhile. He now said he has friends "all over the world."
“Nobody wants anyone to go home. We’re all great friends, we’re all cheering each other on, supporting each other. I think that’s really what makes this special, and I think it was captured really well because that’s how the climbing community is.”