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Climbing With Brooke Raboutou

For Brooke Raboutou, Climbing is in her Blood. Now, She’s Representing Team USA at the Sport’s Olympic Debut

Article by Cassidy Ritter

Photography by Jess Talley / Louder Than 11

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Growing up in Colorado, it’s hard not to fall in love with an outdoor sport such as skiing or climbing. But for Brooke Raboutou, climbing is in her blood. She started climbing at a young age, following the footholds of her parents Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and Didier Raboutou, both former climbing world cup champions.

“My love for climbing began at a very, very young age,” Brooke says. “It started through my parents and the love that they have for climbing [was] passed down to me and my brother. As I grew, my love for the sport grew, and it became my own passion, strengthened by my family’s love.”

For the first time, sport climbing was an Olympic event, kicking off at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Climbing’s debut consisted of three combined disciplines—bouldering, lead climbing and speed climbing—for one medal. Making things more exciting, Boulderite Brooke was the first American climber to qualify for the worldwide competition. She was one of four Americans representing Team USA in the sport.

Brooke, now 20 years old, has years of experience under her belt. At age 11, she became the youngest person in the world to climb a 5.14b, a rock climbing grade typically reserved for elite athletes with years of experience. 

“The hardest climbs that I’ve sent are Jade and Muscle Car, both graded V14, [an elite grade for bouldering]. Jade is much more known in the climbing community, and most people think it’s harder, but Muscle Car required more of my time and energy to send,” Brooke says. “I only recently started projecting climbs that require more than a few sessions for me to complete, so I am excited to stand atop of a longer-term project in the future.”

But good genetics and experience are only part of Brooke’s playbook. She also trains for four to six hours a day, five days a week. In addition to practicing various climbs on a wall, weight training, and light cardio, Brooke’s training also includes mental preparations. “My mental preparations has become one of the most important parts of my training,” she says. “I do a lot of visualization and breathing work to prepare me for the competitions.”

Aside from climbing, Brooke attends the University of San Diego and loves to explore the city with friends. She also enjoys surfing, traveling, and sewing clothes. During the off-season, which is a short break from competitions during the winter, Brooke focuses on school and maintaining her training. 

Pre-COVID-19, Brooke competed in about six national level competitions and between six and 12 international competitions annually; however, none are greater than representing Team USA at the Olympic Games. 

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