Hey Henry, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am 21 years old, originally from Boston, and currently in my junior year at Vanderbilt studying mechanical engineering and business.
How long have you been climbing, and more specifically how long have you been speed climbing?
I have been climbing for about 11 years, and for the last five years have specialized in speed climbing specifically.
How long have you been coming to Climb Nashville?
I have been climbing at Climb Nashville ever since my first tour at Vanderbilt. Now that I am training for the Olympics I am excited to help grow speed climbing in the Climb Nashville community.
What do you like about speed climbing and what attracted you to it?
I began climbing on a youth climbing team in Boston. Every year, when speed climbing season rolled around, we would have a handful of training sessions dedicated to learning the dynamic speed climbing style prior to the divisional championships. I was initially drawn to speed climbing because it gave me the ability to mark my progress and solve problems. I wasn’t very good at speed climbing when I started, having always considered myself a methodical sport climber. Slowly, however, I set incremental goals for improvement. I had a friendly rivalry with one of my teammates who was the same age as me, then was motivated to win regional and divisional Championships. After that I was placing at national and international competitions.
What are your greatest accomplishments as a climber/speed-climber?
I am the reigning collegiate speed climbing national champion. In 2017 I won the bronze medal in the Youth World Championship then in 2018 I placed ninth at the 2018 Villars World Cup. Most recently, I ranked third in the US at the 2021 National Team Trials. With all of this, I am considered one of the favorites in the US for the 2024 Olympic team.
I am also the president and cofounder of the Vanderbilt Climbing Club. Under my leadership, we grew the Vanderbilt Climbing community from a mere five friends to 73 climbers that actively participate in team practices, outdoor trips, and competitions. At the 2019 Collegiate National Championships the Vanderbilt Climbing team placed 13th overall and third in speed climbing out of 96 collegiate teams.
What does your typical training day look like and what has helped you to progress as a speed climber?
I work very closely with my coach and speed climbing mentor, Libor Hroza, the two-time speed climbing world record holder and personal coach to Adam Ondra. I also work with my lovely training partners, Gousie, Olivia Busk, and Lauren King, who are almost always right there with me in the gym.
A typical training day for me consists of a 5 AM wake up followed by a plyometric workout to increase explosive power and coordination. After that, a couple hours rest and some breakfast, followed by 6 to 12 runs on the speed wall with 8 to 12 minute rests (long rests are to ensure maximum power on every run and an emphasize quality over quantity). After this, I typically have classes, lunch, homework etc. Then around mid-afternoon, I do a series of hill sprints on the beautiful hill outside of Climb Nashville. After that I go into the weight room to build isometric strength. Lastly, I finish up with a 3 mile run, and an hour of stretching at night.
What advice would you give to aspiring speed climbers who are just starting out?
Speed climbing has to be something you are passionate about to succeed. When I first started speed climbing I was obsessed with every detail of the sport. I watched every World Cup repeatedly, knew the age, wingspan, and beta used of every top speed climber. I spent every minute I could in the gym speed climbing as much as I physically could. I was lucky enough to be allowed to set the speed climbing wall in sections so that even once I got too tired to work the entire route, I could work on the technique of each section of the wall. For me climbing has always been a passion project. I do it because I love it end it has taught me so many lessons.