In 2006, six year old Kai Lightner walked into The Climbing Place in Fayetteville, NC and discovered the world of rockclimbing. That year he began competing in the USA Climbing organization (the national governing body for competitive climbing) and attended his first sport climbing national championship competition in 2007. In 2010 Kai won his first sport climbing national championship. In September 2014, he earned the gold medal for his age category (14-15) at the Youth World championship in Noumea, New Caledonia, becoming the first American Lead World Champion since 1995. In 2015, at the age of 15, Kai became the Open/Adult Lead Climbing National Champion in his first year of eligibility. Overall, Kai has earned 12 National Championship titles (10 in youth categories; 2 in the adult circuit), and is a 5 time youth world championship medalist.
Kai has a passion for indoor competitive climbing and enjoys “pushing the limits” through outdoor sport climbing. In 2013, Kai reached new heights outdoors, climbing his first 5.14a route. Since that time, he has climbed numerous 5.14 graded routes, reaching a new milestone April 2015 with his ascent of Era Vella (5.14d) in Margalef, Spain.
He aims to continue tackling new outdoor challenges, and competing in international climbing competitions.
Started Climbing: Age 6
Favorite Crag: The Red River Gorge
Home Climbing Gym/Team: Triangle Rock Club
Coaches: Emily Taylor/Shane Messer