While Soccer, Basketball, Tennis, and Track seem to be Seattle Academy’s most prominent sports, Senior, Max Chen has a passion for climbing. It has only been the last few years that Seattle Academy has had its own climbing club, but Max Chen has outdone himself with his talent and heart for climbing. He currently competes with the Seattle Bouldering Project’s team in Seattle. Even though Max competes nationally, climbing has not always been a competitive sport for him. “Climbing has always been a sacred place for me, and competition seemed to ruin it,” says Max.
When children are young they are thrown into a competitive team sports, and their love for competition only grows. However, Max found that his passion for climbing started when he was a kid, just climbing doorjambs or flagpoles. “I have always had a fascination with heights; it’s just an inborn trait,” says Max.
Since the age of seven Max has been competing with various teams in Seattle and is ranked fifth regionally and 33rd in the United States in the junior category (Ages 16-18).
The physical challenge that comes with climbing is inevitable, but what most people don’t know about is the mental challenge. Max says, “The solution to a route is rarely obvious and it forces you to develop a hypothesis and test it. It requires you to have a certain degrees of self-knowledge; knowing what positions you are strong enough to move fluidly in and which positions are going to force you to struggle against gravity.”
One of the most satisfying moments, Max says, is when he discovers new paths he can take on a wall. “The ability to discover new paths, even if you can’t take them yet, is something which I find deeply rewarding,” says Max.
In the spring the seniors will be graduating, and Max looks forward to the new activities he will be able to try at college, but he is sure that climbing will persist through his new interests.