Skip to main content
Professional Climber

Kai Lightner

Fayetteville, NC

After establishing multiple first ascents of baby gates and basketball hoops growing up, I officially found the sport of rockclimbing when I was 6 years old. That year, I entered my first competition and have since earned 12 national titles (10 as a youth competitor and 2 as an adult) and 5 youth world championship medals. When I'm not training for competitions, I enjoy pushing my limits on outdoor projects, climbing my first 5.14a at 13 and my first 5.14d at 15. As a student studying business management at Babson College, I plan to continue balancing my studies while tackling new outdoor challenges and working with organizations focused on minority outreach in outdoor spaces.

Earliest Memories of Climbing:

I’m not sure if climbing the basketball hoop to eat lunch (sitting on the basket) at age 4 counts?!? If not, my first formal experience rock climbing was at age 6 at a climbing gym. My current coach was on staff at the gym and he tortured me by putting me on increasingly difficult routes. I climbed well at first, and then the routes got so hard that I couldn’t complete them. I came back to the gym every day until I conquered those climbs. After that, I kept finding new projects to get hooked on. That pattern still hasn’t stopped...

A funny experience:

My claim to fame was teaching some of the international competitors how to twerk (dance) at the 2013 Youth World championship. I enjoy singing and dancing.

Kai by the Numbers

SCS National Championship Titles
Time Pan American Champion
Front Teeth Knocked Out Climbing