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Kai Lightner: Rock & Rave 2014

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

kai-lightner-rock-rave-2014-01Rock & Rave 2014
kai-lightner-rock-rave-2014-02Hundreds of people piled into Stone Summit Climbing Center to party hard, compete for awesome prizes, and most important- help raise money for a good cause. The event raised over $24,000 which was split between the Access fund, Southeast Climbers Coalition, and the Carolina Climbers Coalition. These nonprofit organizations work hard to keep our crags safe and accessible.


I had a blast competing in the Super Highball Bouldering challenge, Table Bouldering with Salewa, hanging out at the Evolv booth, and eating until my stomach hurt at Pranacopia. I definitely had more desserts than healthy food, but it was for a good cause……right? Last year I was sleep in the corner before all major events ended. This year I lasted through all of the climbing events before my eyelids got heavy and I had to go to sleep (10:30 PM). Next year, I’ll have to plan a long nap before the party begins!


The Ring of Fire- Round 1
This year the Ring of Fire was expanded to a three part series. The first stop was Glastonbury, CT on March 15. I competed in the Open division alongside a few strong, 5.14-5.15 climbers. The qualifier round was scheduled to be flash format, with video recordings of the forerunner climbing the routes. Before I talk about the actual competition rounds, I have to comment on the “female” forerunners in the videos. Huge muscular guys, with a long black wig (and a headband). That was a HILARIOUS way to get the competition started!!


Qualifier Round
The qualifier routes were pretty straightforward. The first route was fun and wasn’t very difficult. The second route was a little more interesting. A few campus moves, a fun flow of movements, and a neat move that required a little power after clearing the lip. The third route was a little technical, with a few slopers toward the top (just when climbers were starting to get a little tired). Josh Levin and I topped all routes, and Matt Londrey had a heartbreaker, falling for the first time of the round, on the finish hold. I moved on to finals tied for first place.




When I first turned around to see the finals route it looked pretty amazing. A long route on an overhang with several unique stalactite features. Although the stalactites looked cool, they also looked a little tricky to navigate. When I finally climbed the route, it wasn’t very difficult for me; however, it was really fun! I topped the route and was really excited. Josh Levin and Vasya Vorotnikov had also topped the finals route, pushing Josh and I into a superfinals round. Apparently they proposed a superfinals format, in the event of a tie, back in ISO. Unfortunately……. I missed that info, so after topping the route, when they announced the superfinals format, my mouth flew open. We had to speed climb the Female Open finals route, onsight! The format was very different, but that wasn’t the kicker that had me a little stunned. Of all people to speed climb with, it was Josh! Ten time National speed champion and former bronze medalist (in speed) from the Youth World championship! For years I watched him fly up routes (with smoke in his path) and now I had to race him up a route in superfinals. Probably because it was Josh, I instantly knew that I had to go lightning fast or I wouldn’t have had a chance. I have never climbed that fast in my life! I shocked everyone (especially myself) when I flew up the route and clipped the anchors in under 90 seconds. I had won the superfinals challenge and the competition.


I am really excited and looking forward to The Ring of Fire- Final Round in May!! The routes should be more challenging with even more insanely strong climbers!! If the goal is winning, why does a harder challenge excite me? Easy answer… it’s all about the training. What better way to train than to compete with some of the strongest climbers in the world. Can’t wait!!


Next stop….Real rock! I’m ready to get back outside in a few weeks!!


~ Kai Lightner, prAna Ambassador
Photos via DPM Climbing

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