When he was a toddler growing up in California, Darren Skolnik ’21 was such an insatiable climber that his parents had to take action. “I climbed everything everywhere, and my parents thought that it would be a good idea to teach me how to do it safely,” he says. Now the rising eighth grader is a competitive rock climber with “a true love of the sport.”
A member of the Gravity Vault Competitive Rock Climbing Team based in Upper Saddle River, NJ, Darren participates in approximately ten competitions each year, competing in three separate events: bouldering, sport, and speed. He explains, “Bouldering is when you’re not tied onto a rope, and the objective is to get to the top of a specific route not more than 15’ up. Sport climbing is when you are attached to a rope and you try to get to the top of a specific route of varying heights (25’–70’ in a general competition, although I have gone up to 100’ outside). No two routes in each of these events are ever the same. During both sport climbing and bouldering competitions, you have a finite time to finish your route. The objective of speed climbing is to complete the route in the quickest time possible, while competing with other climbers. The speed route nationally and internationally is exactly the same. My record on the official 15-meter route is 15 seconds.”
Darren has even competed in a national competition for speed climbing, where he came in 20th place. This year over spring break, he traveled to Nevada to go outdoor climbing in the famous Red Rock Canyon.