The Gift of New Experiences

Being the first recipient of the Inge Perkins Scholarship has been a huge honor, and I am incredibly thankful for all it has given me. This scholarship has not only supported my climbing financially this year, but it has given me opportunities to interact with the sport in new ways.

For my last season with the Bozeman Climbing Team, I decided to try something different by competing in speed climbing. Training for an unfamiliar discipline added variety to my routine, and it was more fun than I thought it would be. I enjoyed the process of figuring out what beta worked best for me, committing it to muscle memory, and seeing my time decrease.  

Aubrey speed climbing at Nationals.

Aubrey speed climbing at Nationals.

This season I also learned about a few aspects of my sport climbing that needed refinement. With the help of my coaches I was able to improve. I worked a lot on pacing and conserving energy by climbing faster. I also focused on engaging my core the right way while on the wall. By applying these changes, I was able to get higher and higher on the routes I projected.

I grew closer to my teammates this season. We spent more time together outside of a normal practice setting. Before divisionals, we went as a team to Utah for a weekend to train at the gym where we would be competing. On the drive down my teammates and I played cards games, and when we made it to Salt Lake, we all stayed in one big house together.

The next evening, we ate dinner on the porch and played capture the flag in the backyard until it was dark. This trip gave me some of my favorite climbing memories, not just because I had the chance to try routes at a new gym, but because of all the team bonding that occurred. I also had the chance to climb with some of my teammates outside this season; we got to know each other even better, and the team as a whole grew even tighter. 

At sport and speed divisionals, I was a little nervous because I knew if I didn’t make it to nationals, my last season as a youth competitor would be cut short. Luckily, in finals I was able to climb on an enjoyable route with long reaches and high heel hooks between big green hemisphere volumes. I ended up qualifying for one last youth competition.

Aubrey climbing at Divisionals.

Aubrey climbing at Divisionals.

At nationals, nervous anticipation turned to calm focus and then to joy as soon as I stepped up to each climb. It was my goal to make it to semifinals. Originally I had hoped to do this in the sport discipline, but instead I made it to semis for speed. This was something I never would have expected when I first started working the speed route. Having the opportunity to compete at a national level in all three disciplines this year was an incredible experience and one that I won’t soon forget.

It’s hard for me to believe that my last season on the Bozeman Climbing Team has come to an end. It feels like going to practice every week and training with my teammates has been a part of my life forever. While I definitely plan to continue climbing and competing in college and beyond, it’s going to be a challenging transition. I will miss spending time at Spire. I couldn’t be more thankful for all the friendships, memories, and support BCT has given me over the last three years and that youth programs gave me before that. I can’t wait to cheer next year’s team on at all their Salt Lake competitions!  

Yet moving to a new state and climbing in new places will be a good opportunity for me to learn more and grow more. This fall, I will be attending the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where I’m going to be taking some general courses that will hopefully help me decide which major I want to pursue. I’m also going to try out for the college climbing team. I can’t wait to make new friends in Utah and explore new outdoor areas.

The real rock climbing experiences that the Inge Perkins Scholarship provides allowed me to learn essential skills before leaving for college, like setting up and cleaning anchors. I was also able to try out traditional climbing, a discipline that I was unfamiliar with beforehand. I also learned more about the process of projecting outdoor sport routes.

The knowledge I gained on these trips will help me as I continue to climb outside more and as I begin climbing in places around Utah. Through the scholarship, I was also given the chance to start giving back to the climbing community by participating in the Natural Bridge trail day and volunteering to wash holds at Spire. If felt good to do something that would benefit other climbers since I feel the sport has given so much to me.

The climbing gear I received through the scholarship also helped me when I wore through my competition shoes and when I started doing more outdoor climbing. It has been an amazing experience working with the people who helped put this scholarship together, as they are all kind and supportive. I am grateful for every way that the scholarship impacted me and my climbing experiences this year.

Touch The Sky