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Date of birth: August 21,1999 (age 17)

Hometown: Fayetville, North Carolina

Education: Highschool (Junior)

Started Climbing: Age 6

Favorite Crag: The Red River Gorge

Home Climbing Gym/Team: Triangle Rock Club

Coaches: Emily Taylor/Shane Messer

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 155 lbs

Profession: Rock Climber  

Highest Redpoint Grade: 5.14d+ 

Status: Single 

"The thrill for me in climbing, is constantly pushing myself a little outside of my comfort zone and then fighting to rise to the challenge.  I'm less focused on the achievement of others, and more focused on how I progress in my own climbing."


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"I obviously knew going into it, I was doing something different, especially in my community.  

It was a big deal I was doing it because no one rock climbed.  

And the way out typically in an African American community is by being a basketball player.  Or a football player.  

Doing sports along those lines.  So by being a rock climber, I was definitely being outside the box." 


Yosemite Legend Doug Robinson inspires Kai Lightner First Multi-Pitch climb.

Kai Lightner attempts his hardest route Erra Vella 9a/ 5.14d and sends it.

"When I first saw Era Vella, the route was even more incredible than the pictures. It was huge and a little intimidating. When I first began to climb it, I realized that the individual moves were not hard for me, but I knew it would be a beast to link the moves together. This was the first time that I had projected a route not knowing if I was capable of sending it. For 140 ft of climbing you have to stay 100% focused the whole time. Thre route is so sustained that I could only n1 or 2  good attempts a day. My strength diminshed with each attempt. There were times I made it past the crux moves on the route only to fall close to the top, on a jug, because my foot popped! I'm used to cameras at competitions, but having someone there to document my disaapointment, frustration, and failures, was incredibly difficult."

After being a dominant force at indoor climbing as an adolescent, 18 year old Kai Lightner sets out to take his skills to the next level in order to qualify for the 2021 Olympics.

Kai Lightner sending Southern smoke 5.14c at the Red River Gorge

Climbers all have a story about thow they got started, and 14 year old Kai Lighter's introductionis particularly striking - and not only beacuse he's a brilliant climber. Much like Tiger Woods, he could change the demographics of climbing.  

Garbage Pail Kids 8c

2014 Ring of Fire

"I do the exact same routine everytime before I compete.  I listen to the same music.  I do the exact same exercise.  I do the exact same moves on the wall that pertains to how I warm up.  I schedule my warmup to the T.  So by the time I'm out, it feels exactly the same as I would do in a class.  I feel like by having a routine before you compete is the key to success."



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