Rock climbing isn’t just a sport for Zoe Beauchemin, but a complex problem begging to be solved.
Scaling the walls at rock climbing gyms in Greater Victoria and analyzing her next move is when Beauchemin gets in the zone, slowly inching closer hold by hold before she completes the puzzle and reaches the top of a wall.
“You don’t care about anything else and it’s just the problem in front of you that matters,” said the Grade 12 Esquimalt High student. “That’s where I want to be when I climb . . . and just block everything else out.”
It’s a sport the 17-year-old has found success in, in recent years.
For the past two years, Beauchemin has competed in the youth national bouldering competitions, finishing eighth in the girls aged 15 to 16 age bouldering category in the country.
Currently, she’s one of the best climbers on Vancouver Island and will be representing her hometown, returning to the youth national bouldering competition in February.
Beauchemin competes in two different styles of rock climbing: lead and bouldering. Lead involves ropes and the goal is to climb as high as possible. In bouldering, climbers want to climb as high as possible as well, but without the assistance of ropes or a harness. It also involves more complicated moves (getting from one hole to another) to be completed in a shorter amount of space on the wall.
Beauchemin picked up the sport competitively three years ago, after trying it at a birthday party, and she hasn’t looked back since.
“Climbing in general, I love the community. I think that it’s a very motivated group of individuals who bring to climbing a lot of different things. It’s interesting to learn about these people’s lives because they’re so different,” said Beauchemin, who is on the youth team at The Boulders Climbing Gym in Saanichton.
“Bouldering is like problem solving, it’s a new challenge every time you turn onto the wall. It’s really cool in how diverse it is.”
In preparation for nationals, Beauchemin trains eight to nine hours a week at one of four rock climbing gyms around Greater Victoria, including CragX Indoor Climbing Centre and Boulder House Climbing. Each gym offers a different style and size wall for her to scale — an infinite number of problems for her to solve. In addition to her on the wall training, she also does strength training at the Pacific Institue for Sport Excellence.
But when it comes time to competing and standing in front of a rock climbing wall, it’s all about positive reinforcement for Beauchemin.
“I just think motivational things, positive reinforcement,” she said. “I just think ‘you can do this, you’ve prepared for this’.”