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UNT rock climber reaches for the summit

UNT rock climber reaches for the summit

UNT rock climber reaches for the summit
February 13
18:41 2019

Stepping into the rock climbing gym, it is hard to miss computer science sophomore Justin Lee as he climbs up rock walls without hesitation, jumping from one rock to the other.

During his freshman year, Lee joined the UNT Climbing Club and more recently, the Beta Breakers team at a local gym called Summit. Dedicated to climbing, Lee said he pushes himself to do better each time. While climbing allows him to physically build his strength and endurance, at the same time, Lee said it also serves as a mental test.

“You’re using your brain creatively,” Lee said. “Climbing routes are like problems that you have to solve. You have to constantly be thinking about the next step. ‘Where is the best position to put my body for the next hold? What technique do I want to use?’ The harder the routes, the better you get.”

Carol Prewitt, the president of the UNT Climbing Club, has been climbing with Lee for two years now and said the sport is about encouraging everyone to do their best.

Justin Lee works his way past the spider wall obstacle during his run for the Texas Ninja League competition at Ninja Nation in Frisco. Image by: Will Baldwin.

“Climbing is an amazing community,” Prewitt said. “Everyone is so supportive and you need to make those connections. With [the Climbing Club], we bring people from all different types of majors that have one thing in common — climbing. It’s amazing having these friendships and just going out there and supporting each other to be better as a climber.”

Lee recently decided to audition for the national television show “American Ninja Warrior,” where participants compete by tackling different obstacle courses in a certain amount of time.

“He’s been working really hard,” Prewitt said. “Doing ‘Ninja Warrior’ is really helping him as a climber as it also uses the full body.”

The show’s obstacle courses often include a series of floating steps, a warped wall and various other hurdles suspended above water. Lee said he is hoping to hear back from the “American Ninja Warrior” recruiters soon and is confident he could make it on the show.

Lee has spent one day a week training at the Ninja Nation gym in Frisco, where he attempts different obstacles made up of challenges that test strength and endurance. Being on two climbing teams, Lee said his dedication to the sport is what often sets him apart from the rest of the Ninja Nation trainees.

“A lot of serious Ninja Warriors include climbing in their workouts,” Lee said. “Through climbing, I got more interested in similar sports and decided to check [‘American Ninja Warrior’ out.”

UNT Climbing Club coach Johnny Willbanks has been working with Lee for four months now, and he said Lee is a natural leader in the gym.

“Justin brings a lot of determination and encouragement to the other climbers,” Willbanks said. “He’s a very strong individual.”

Justin Lee builds momentum to fling himself from a pair of straps only to catch himself with a hanging disk. Image by: Will Baldwin.

Prewitt said Lee affects the climbers around him through his high sense of motivation.

“He is a very energetic person,” Prewitt said. “He’s really driven to become a stronger climber and wants the club to get stronger as well. He really motivates everyone around him.”

Participating in climbing competitions at UNT, training with the Beta Breakers and tackling obstacles at Ninja Nation, Lee pushes himself to reach his goals and trains at least four times a week. Lee said the amount of time and effort he puts into training only propels him to get better for the future.

“[Climbing is] like a puzzle [turned] into a physical sport,” Lee said. “Nothing beats the feeling of falling and falling on the same problem, [then] something clicks, and next time you’re on the wall, you go for it.”

Featured Image: Sophomore Justin Lee hangs off the bouldering wall at Summit Climbing Gym. Image by: Will Baldwin. 

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Katelyn Manfre

Katelyn Manfre

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1 Comment

  1. Splashtokov
    Splashtokov February 14, 08:55

    Wow what dedication this young man has!

    Reply to this comment

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