Kai Lightner first walked into The Climbing Place in Fayetteville back in 2006 and discovered the world of climbing. In 2010, he won his first sport climbing national championship. In September 2014, he earned the gold medal for his age category at the Youth World Championships, becoming the first American Lead World Champion since 1995.
In 2015, at the age of 15, he became the National Lead Champion in his first year of eligibility. He has earned 12 national championship titles and is a five-time Youth World Championship medallist. He’s also a 5.14d climber and the founder of Climbing for Change.
A new film about Lightner and Climbing for Change was just released by Petzl, watch below. The description reads: “The limitations that we set for ourselves often fall short of our true potential. How do we transcend limitations? How do we take these perceived ‘weaknesses’ and use them to achieve the things we want most in this world?
“Ask Kai Lightner. Since beginning his career, he’s worked to reach beyond preconceived notions of who he is and what he’s capable of. Lightner hopes in the future, when young climbers of colour, ‘…open up that climbing magazine, they see a plethora of black and brown faces looking back at them. Accomplishing great things, and showing them — this path is for you, and this industry is for you as well.’ Reflecting Forward is a film about representation, reflection, and creating a climbing community that works for everyone.”