Sophie Buitendyk is going to be all over you.
The Grade 9 rock climber from Abbotsford recently placed first at the Canadian National Youth Bouldering Championship in Burlington, Ont., in the 14/15-year-old category.
And soon she will be attempting to scale even greater heights: the International Federation of Sport Climbing World Youth Championships in Acro, Italy, in late August.
Buitendyk started climbing at Project Climbing Center in Abbotsford when she was eight.
She had tried other sports like dance and gymnastics, but climbing just clicked instantly.
“It’s just really a fun sport,” she said.
Tara Tilling, co-owner of Project Climbing Centre and Buitendyk’s first coach, remembers the youngster’s first climb at the facility in 2009.
“She worked on it hard,” Tilling recalled.
“After a year it was pretty evident that she was super-motivated, a hard worker and you could see her going places.”
Buitendyk currently climbs four days a week: two days at Hive in Vancouver, one at Base 5 in Coquitlam and one at Project Climbing.
When you’re inside the cavernous Project Climbing Centre, look up and you’ll see coloured tape on the walls that indicate a “route” up the wall.
The path is then given a difficulty level and a climber trying a route that is at or above their physical limit might take days or weeks to finally do the route from bottom to top without falling, Tillings explained.
“It’s kind of fun being up high and working on climb and when you finally get it, it’s exciting,” she Buitendyk.
Buitendyk never gives up on a route. Asked for a word to describe her when climbing, she chooses “determined.”
There are three main disciplines in her sport: bouldering, sport climbing (lead) and speed climbing. Buitendyk competes in the first two.
The difference between bouldering and sport climbing, as explained by Tilling: Bouldering is done without ropes, with just padding on the ground. The routes are much shorter but tend to be more powerful and gymnastic. Sport climbing involves clipping a rope into protection on the wall as you go. These routes are much longer and generally require more endurance than power.
Last year Buitendyk placed fourth at the nationals in Montreal and qualified for the world youth championships in Noumea, New Caledonia but didn’t participate because it was too expensive to get there.
But this year she plans to be in Italy for the world junior championship.
Climbing is an expensive sport, especially when competing at the national and international level.
This year Buitendyk’s goal is to compete in local and provincial events, attend national training camps in Western and Eastern Canada, the Toronto 2015 Pan Am games in July and the Youth World Championships in Italy.
She paid for part of her trip to the nationals by selling baked goods at the Project Climbing Center and doing a bottle-drive. She plans to continue fundraising.
She’s also seeking sponsors, and you learn more at makeachamp.com/sophiebuitendyk.