Families — Parents — Kids

11-Year-Old Girl Is a Rock Climber Like No Other

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Given the last week's news of Lance Armstrong coming clean about, oh, earning his Tour jerseys and resulting millions of dollars by fraud, it certainly has to give us parents some pause about the path we're setting our kids onto when we get them involved in competitive sports. Will they (we?) too become so enamored with winning that they'll turn to cheating? It sure does seem like the edge is near because, well, every sport has got it going on to some degree — from fouling to doping to gambling to mistresses on the side.

Still after all those rearing years of Saturday soccer or whatever, today's pro cheaters were certainly taught by their very own parents and coaches, "Winning is not everything. It's about having fun." Yeah, but winning is the most fun and you can't be a winner unless you want it and want it badly. There had to be a tipping point for Barry Bonds and Lance Armstrong, the point where winning became everything and worth all costs. Those who can balance their desire to win with their self-respect and integrity hopefully become our heroes, but it doesn't always work out that way. 

These are just the thoughts that rise up while watching this remarkable 11-year-old girl, Brooke Raboutou, who doesn't just climb, but also shatters rocking climbing records. She was the first 9-year-old to boulder V10; first 10-year-old  to boulder V11 and climb 5.14a; and the she became the first 11-year-old to climb 5.14b. Unfathomable. She's competitive, strong, determined, and it blends together in a wonderful way. She's a regular happy and excited kid, and she highlights all the good things about rock climbing: it teaches you to work hard on difficult challenges until you achieve your goal. That's a good thing. The best part of outdoor sports, I'd say. Why isn't that the definition of winning?

I watched this with my two daughters on my lap. Shiloh, my 4-month-old, said nothing. Expected. But Chloe is five years old now, and she snuggled up to me with her purple blankey and watched with a slack jaw as Brooke pulled on impossible crimpers and threw heel hooks. All my daughter could muster was, "Wow. That's awesome. I want to do that." I can't tell you how happy that made me feel — she was thinking about the climbing, I was thinking about learning how to achieve a goal.

Brooke Raboutou climber girl


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