Lucy Wilks isn't afraid of heights.
The 13-year-old New Canaan CT resident will be facing a test of strength, balance, flexibility, technique and problem solving when she heads to the USA Climbing’s Youth Bouldering Nationals this week in Colorado Springs, CO. The championships will be held Feb. 28 through March 2.
Lucy started climbing three years ago after spending a week at The Rock Club in New Rochelle, NY, for summer camp. She became hooked and was literally climbing the walls at home.
In the fall of 2012, Lucy joined The Rock Club’s competitive team and started competing at local competitions held throughout the tri-state region. She climbs 3 hours a day typically 4 days a week. Her hard work has paid off as this will be her third time qualifying for a youth climbing nationals. To be invited to Nationals, climbers must place in the top seven of their region and one of five divisions in the country.
The bouldering competition is one of three disciplines in competitive rock climbing, the other two being sport climbing and speed climbing. Lucy also qualified and competed in the sport and speed nationals last July in Atlanta, GA.
When most people think of rock climbing, they think of sport climbing with large rock faces, ropes and harnesses. Bouldering tops out typically at 15 to 20 feet with no ropes but with padding to cushion the falls. Fall is the bouldering season for competitive youth climbing, followed by sport and speed competitions in the spring.
At the bouldering competitions, the climbers are scored on how successful they are at making it to the top of the different climbs that have been set up on artificial walls. Each climb is a unique problem the climber needs to solve in less than four minutes. Most climbers will not complete the climb on their first attempt. When a climber falls, they need to quickly recover, assess what went wrong and try again, perhaps with a whole new approach. While some problems test a climber’s strength and endurance, others reward a climber who has great problem solving skills.
While most of Lucy’s climbing is indoors on artificial walls, last summer she traveled with her coach and teammates to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky for 14 days of big wall climbing.
Rock climbing has been a popular sport in Europe and Asia for a long time and has seen a surge in popularity in the US in recent years.