Leaders & People

Kai Lightner: View from the Edge of the World at Reel Rock

Kai Lightner Norway 3 ph Brett Lowell(1) 2.jpgRock climbers have a unique perspective of the world. Rock climbers ignite the magic to glide to the edge of the world defying fear and gravity to see beyond themselves. Experiencing that space between certainty and uncertainty, predicability and unpredictability, failure and success.

Kai Lightner, a young rock climbing champion from Fayetteville, North Carolina, balances on the precipice with an intense belief in his ability, core training, and an eagerness to explore that next peak.

Kai is a featured athlete in the Reel Rock festival film Young Guns along with another accomplished athlete, Ashima Shiraishi who is 15 years old from New York City, NY. Kai and Ashima join in Norway to explore their next vantage point.

Taking a break from competing in China, Kai responded to a few questions from 9 Muses News.

When you are on the edge of the world, how do you feel?

Incredible and free.  When I’m high up on mountains looking down on a city, all stress disappears.  No school, no work, just beautiful scenery.

What do you want the world to know?

The sky is the limit.  Just like climbing isn’t a popular sport in my community, the world is filled with so many places and activities beyond what we can imagine.  When people step out of their comfort zone and try new things, they open up many more options for enjoying life.  Step out, try something new, and unlock a new adventure.

When you think of the spirit of rock climbing, who or what inspires you?

I am inspired to always push my own limits.  Every time I take on a new goal, I am motivated to accomplish it.  Often the tougher the challenge,  and the more I struggle to achieve my goal, the more determined and stubborn I become to keep trying.  Ultimately each time my feat is conquered, I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.  It’s an awesome feeling to know that hard work and determination can lead you to achieve almost anything.   Especially things that initially seem just outside of your reach.

How do you overcome tough obstacles?

By not being afraid of failure.  Especially with climbing, you have to understand that it’s part of the process.  You set a high goal, come up with a plan to accomplish it, and you struggle along the way.  Each time your plan falls through, analyze why, fix the problems, then go back it.  Eventually you’ll wear it down and inch your way towards overcoming it.

Why rock climbing?

I learned to climb before I could walk.  Crawled, climbed,  then walked.  It was natural for me.

Thinking ahead, what is on your bucket list?

Finish high school, then take a year off to travel the world and push myself to new heights. I want to travel to places I’ve never been & take on (and conquer) harder challenges. I don’t think I’m going to push it to living the van life though.  That’s still out of my league ; -)

Kai Lightner Norway 1 ph Brett Lowell(2).jpgKai Lightner Norway 2 ph Brett Lowell(1) 2.jpg


Reel Rock Film Tour has moved across the country starting in Denver/Boulder then Colorado, Seattle, Washington, San Francisco, California and New York City, NY.

The last weekend of the Reel Rock Film Tour is in Washington, DC on November 11, 2016 at 5:30-7:30 pm and 8-10 pm at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland and on Sunday, November 13th at 7-9 pm at the Sportrock Alexandria, 5308 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304.

Imagine, what does a young rock climber, approaching and conquering a peak, teach others?

“The sky is the limit.”

“Step out, try something new, and unlock a new adventure.”

Bravo, Kai!

By Keri Douglas, publisher and founder of 9 Muses News. Copy right protected. All rights reserved.


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