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Kai Lightner: Phenomenal youth climber with mad skills

If you’re in the climbing scene and haven’t heard the name Kai Lightner, it is highly suggested that you look up this youth wunderkind. We’re seeing several young climbing prodigies who climb with technique and endurance that is beyond their years, and Kai Lightner is definitely one of them. At age 15, Kai’s climbing resumé boasts some 5.14c routes and right before he turned 15, he did his first onsight of a 5.14 with The Pipe Dream (5.14a) in Maple Canyon, Utah.

Kai Lightner up against Jimmy Webb in the 2014 Psicobloc Series
Erica Jessop

Kai has won several national and international sport climbing and bouldering competitions. He’s tall and lean and is incredibly intuitive when it comes to climbing technique and perfect body positions while on a route. As Momentum Climbing Gym co-owner Jeff Pedersen said on the Maple Canyon trip, “What is remarkable about Kai is how quickly he gets into perfect body positions. He seamlessly and effortlessly moves from one perfect body position to another perfect position, wasting very little energy along the way.”

Kai has a natural talent for climbing and he has quite the keen motivation and training regiment, but what makes his climbing talent more enriched is the support and encouragement of his mother. In the film 14c that premiered to a sold-out crowd at the 7th annual 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale, Colorado, you get a glimpse of a few days in the life of Kai Lightner and the strong bond between him and his mother. The film, directed by George Knowles, won an award for ‘Most Inspiring Film’.

Just this month, Kai found himself competing in the 2nd Annual CLIF Bar Psicobloc Master Series in Park City, Utah. He hadn’t planned on competing, but with some convincing from various peers and mentors, Kai decided to do it since he was in Utah for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market tradeshow anyway. Kai went up against seasoned climber Jimmy Webb, and despite the fact Jimmy reached the top of the Psicobloc wall first, Kai determinedly finished the 50+ foot overhanging wall. You could see the dogged determination and smooth agility as Kai finished the wall. His climbing ability had a flowing refinement that kept the spectator mesmerized and curious to see his next move. Cheers from the crowd broke out in loud applause when Kai made it to the top of the wall.

Kai Lightner adds his remarkable climbing skills to an extraordinarily talented group of young climbing prodigies such as Ashima Shiraishi, Mirko Caballero and Brooke Raboutou that are really taking the climbing realm to a whole new level. With aspirations to one day become a sport-climbing world champion, there’s no doubt that Kai Lightner will get there and that we’ll be hearing about more of his contributions and endeavors to climbing.

Click here for more information on Kai Lightner.