For more of Kai’s pictures and videos, follow @kailightner on Instagram.
“#hellomynameis Kai Lightner (@kailightner) and I am a 16-year-old climber from North Carolina. I first began climbing at the age of 6 — I always got in trouble for climbing things I shouldn’t have, and rock climbing was a solution for me to release energy. When I climb, I’m able to just release everything from my mind — I feel in control of everything that’s happening around me.
Since I’ve started climbing, I’ve won nine national youth titles, a youth world championship title and the 2015 adult national championship, but I hope to become an adult world champion. It’s really exciting and a privilege to be a role model for people that are younger than me.
In my community, it’s not very common to like rock climbing — the fact that I’m excelling at it, I feel, is really different. But it could be inspiring to other people. I think it’s okay to be different, and we shouldn’t associate different with uncool.”