Mainsheet: Arielle, what sport are you involved in?

Arielle Levine: I am a competitive rock climber.

MS: What exactly does that entail?

AL:So, there are two seasons of rock climbing. The first season that we are in right now is called “bouldering,”and the second season is called “sport climbing.”

MS: What’s the difference between the two?

AL: The season we are in rightnow is “bouldering,” where it’s a shorter wall, but you climb without any ropes.  Basically, you just see howhard of a climb that you can do where you can get to the top, and you can get certain numbers of points for each climb you complete.

MS: What is the second part?

AL: “Sport climbing” is basically the traditional rock walls that people think of when they think of rock climbing,where it’s taller and you have ropes that you are connected to, but that one is judged and scored based on speed.

MS: When you reach the top of the wall,what goes through your mind?

AL: Well, we have been mainly doing bouldering competitions so far, but what mainly goes through my mind during every competition is, “Yes, I can’t believe I made it!” I mean my hands are usually really stinging by then and my legs are shaking, but it just has a feeling of satisfaction unlike almost anything else that I have ever done, especially whenit’s a climb that I had to try multiple times to get up to the top of.  When I finally get there, it’s very satisfying.

MS: What kind of competitions do you partake in?

AL: Well so far I have been doing the bouldering competitions or American Bouldering Series, and in the American Bouldering Series, you just go. You try to do as many climbs as you can within three hours, and either you are judged by judges or just by other climbers tomake sure  you do the route correctly so you don’t go on rocks you are not allowed to touch.

MS: And how is that scored?

AL: You just get a certain number of points for each climb that you actually complete. You get extra points if you don’t fall sometimes and you can just do it the first time you try. They take your top five, so the five top scoring climbs you do are the ones that count. They add them up, and they see what the top score is in each of the different divisions.

MS: So how have you been doing in these competitions?

AL: I have been doing pretty well so far in the two that I have participated in this year. I have gotten first and second.

MS: That’s pretty cool.

AL: For my climbs, I am a female junior climber, and juniors are sixteen- to eighteen- year-olds.

MS: And how has that been?

AL: So far, I have been doing pretty well. I have a couple more competitions coming up, and I am going to goto regionals in January.

MS: That’s exciting!

AL: Yes, and if I make the top two in regionals, then I will get to go to nationals.

MS: What’s your absolute favorite part about rock climbing?

AL: Just knowing when you get to the top that you really accomplished something and knowing that you have worked hard. We have to do lots of conditioning every workout, and you really have to be strong.

MS: It definitely seems like a difficult sport.

AL: When I get to a new climb that Iwasn’t able to do before because it was just too hard and then actually get to the top of it, I always feel like I’ve really conquered something. It’s a very gratifying feeling.

MS: How did you get into this sport in the first place?

AL: Well, I have always loved rockclimbing. I have always loved it doing for fun, and I never really knew thatthere was such a thing as a competitive rock climbing before, but then I went to the rock gym that I go to sometimes, and I found out. I said, “Oh my gosh,there is a competitive rock climbing team I can join.”  I basically just asked my parents, and I was able to join.

MS:If you could pick one adjective to describe your sport, what would that word be?

AL: Thrilling.

MS: And why is that?

AL: Because you never know if you are going to fall, and especially when you are bouldering and there aren’t any ropes, you can fall a pretty good distance. So when you get up to the top there is just a thrill that you have gotten there, but also when you don’t get up to the top, and you fall that’s a thrill in itself aswell.