Photography provided by Sara Griffith.
Sara Griffith, Senior in high school, 18
Years climbing: Somewhere around 11
Hardest Grade sent: v11/5.13a
How does it feel to be in Madison right now?
So cold!! I’m definitely spoiled by our Southern California “winters” and the temps are dropping below zero over here, so it’s a bit of a wake up call!
You're traveling for competitions smack dab in the middle of your school year. How do you balance your education with your climbing career?
Well, it can get stressful sometimes, but overall it’s pretty manageable to maintain a balance between my training and schoolwork. My teachers are pretty understanding when it comes to missing school for climbing trips and competitions, and plane rides are my best friend when it comes to getting work done when I’m out of town.
Sounds like you've been doing this for a while. Tell us about your climbing background!
My dad took me into ClimbX in Huntington Beach one day when I was seven, and I liked it enough to join a weekly kids club to climb with other kids my age. A few months later my gym held a USAC local competition and i competed for fun, but the experience got me psyched to get involved in the USAC youth circuit and I’ve been training and competing ever since!
A lot of folks climb recreationally so they haven't been exposed to the competition circuit. Briefly explain how it works.
USA Climbing runs two seasons a year (bouldering and sport season), each with local competitions, regionals, divisionals, and nationals. Right now I’m competing at bouldering nationals after climbing well enough to earn a spot in each competition leading up to now. The youth circuit definitely helps me stay psyched to train and climb my strongest year-round at these competitions.
The whole atmosphere at the competition is awesome, where everyone is excited to be there, try hard, and leave it all on the wall. It’s super nice to catch up with climbers from around the country that I only get a chance to see a few times a year!
How have you been preparing for Nationals?
I’ve been training three to four days a week with a lot of weighted climbing, ab workouts, one-arm training, and cardio. Chad’s definitely been keeping me motivated!
Sara's climbing achievements are not limited to the indoors by any means. Most recently, Sara made a trip out to Bishop where she took down Soul Slinger (v9) among a slew of other classics in that grade range.
During a previous trip to Hueco Tanks, she managed to send Une Pointe de Bleau Dans un Hueco (v11) in just one session. One of her favorite climbs is Porkchop (v3) in Red Rocks which she says is "definitely one of my favorite boulder problems I've ever gotten on."
They say climbing is equal parts psychological and physical. What thoughts went through your mind leading up to it?
Going into the competition, every competitor in each category is super strong and it really depends on how well you warm up and how strong your mental game is that day. Just have to focus and make sure to give each attempt 100%.
Sara's hard work clearly paid off. She flashed all four Qualifier problems and is tied for 1st with Megan Mascarenas and Katy Lamb as she heads into semi-finals .
Break down some of the comp climbs/cruxes.
The climbs were super fun! Problem 2 had a fairly dynamic crux from a pretty chalked up sloper to some good knobs that I had to make sure to commit to 100% first go. Problem 4 was really mental for me! Balancey slab climbs are not my forte, and the main thought running through my mind during that climb was to stay calm and keep it together while going with the flow and figuring out the beta on the wall.
You had a ton of support from home with folks streaming the comp live and rooting you on via social media. How has that affected you during the comp?
It’s really encouraging tosee everyone from back home sending me their support!! It definitely adds a bit of extra motivation knowing they’re watching live.
You'll be aging out of the Youth Circuit after this season. What are your plans for your climbing career once you're in college?
I’m definitely looking to compete in the Collegiate Climbing Series and the USAC Open competitions next year! I’m stoked on continuing to train and climb through college, wherever I end up!
Any last words?
I should climb around 6:40pm cheese time so4:40pm cali time tonight.