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, and attended his first Sport Climbing Series National Competition in 2007. As an active competitor in USA Climbing (the national governing body for competitive climbing), Kai has earned 12 National Championship titles(10 in youth categories; 2 in the adult circuit), and is a 3 time youth world medalist. In September 2014, Kai 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, he became the Open/Adult Lead Climbing National Champion in his first year of eligibility.
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