By the age of 11, climbing “prodigy,” Brooke Raboutou, had a whopping 7 records under her belt—including achieving grades of V11 and 5.14b.
Now 15 years old, this ABC Climbing Team Member based in Boulder, CO shows no signs of slowing down. In July of 2014, she sent her first V13 (Fragile Steps), and just recently snagged a 5.14c ascent of Southern Smoke in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. Impressive is an understatement for the many goals this young, motivated climber has already ticked off. Read on to hear how this young phenom continues to break barriers of what’s possible.
When did you first start climbing? Can you tell us about your first experience on real rock?
I first started climbing around the time I could walk! I remember the first time I led climbed outside. I was 5 years old and it was in France near our house; it was a 5.6 rope climb and I was very proud!
You’re the daughter of two world class climbers—Robyn Erbesfield and Didier Raboutou. How did they introduce you to the sport?
My parents introduced me to rock climbing naturally. My dad stopped climbing before that, but my mom was/is still climbing hard, so it was kind of just part of my life.
A look into Brooke’s prodigal achievements, work ethic, and family dynamic:
Tell us about your relationship with indoor versus outdoor climbing. Do you prefer one over the other? What motivates you more?
I do a lot of indoor and outdoor climbing. I do more indoor climbing, mostly to train for outdoor climbing and for competitions. I prefer outdoor climbing, because it seems more real and I love being outdoors!
I am motivated both indoor and outdoors, but I am always a little more motivated outdoors because I want to get to the top of the climb and either stand on top of the boulder, or clip the chains of the route.
How often do you train? Do you ever get sick of climbing? What do you do to stay psyched?
I train about 4-5 days a week for 3 hours or more each day. I love climbing and I stay psyched by not overtraining and by making sure I am always having fun!
How do you balance school and climbing?
I go to school every day (except for the weekend, thank God) and I come home, do my homework, then go to practice, and then come back home and finish my homework. It is a lot to handle but I can manage with out too much extra stress. I do have to miss some school for competitions, but my teachers and school are very understanding and they support me.
Related: Climber Spotlight: Kai Lightner
You’re 5’1” yet you’ve managed to send incredibly hard problems/routes (V13 and 5.14c). What are some strategies you use to overcome reachy or very powerful moves?
I am 5’1″ which is quite short for my age, but I don’t let my height stop me from climbing hard. If someone tells me a move or a climb is too reachy for me, it does not discourage me, but instead makes me want to try it even more and prove them wrong.
You recently sent Southern Smoke (5.14c) at the Red—congrats! You also set 7 climbing records before you turned 12. At only 15 years-old now, how does it feel to have such incredible accomplishments under your belt already?
I am so glad that I am able to push my limits and the sport’s limits, it is truly a great feeling!
Tell us about one of your proudest moments in your climbing career.
One of my proudest moments in climbing was when I sent Welcome to Tijuana (5.14b), I had tried this climb for a few days now and was consistently falling at the very last move. It was pretty frustrating. I finally stuck the move and did the climb! It was a great feeling.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
In 10 years I hope to be a well-rounded person, including having a great climbing career outside and in competitions. I hope to be doing the World Cup circuit!
If you weren’t rock climbing, what would you be doing instead?
I don’t know what I would do with out rock climbing! I love it so much and I am glad I have it in my life. If I was not a rock climber, I might be a gymnast. I used to do gymnastics and I really enjoyed it.
Do you have a favorite piece of gear or any must-haves for a day of climbing?
I have lots of favorite climbing gear, including the new Petzl Sitta harness. I also love the ORGANIC crash pads!
If you could give one piece of advice to a beginner climber or a 5.15/V15 crusher, what would it be?
My advice to any level climber is to keep climbing, keep having fun, and don’t let anything or anyone get in your way.
A huge thank you to Brooke for taking the time share your story and some sage advice with us. There’s a lot we can learn from a climber whose achieved so much at such a young age! We’re excited to continue to watch you push the boundaries with your climbing. Best of luck!