by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Mark Hopkins Photography

Climbing to the Top


Zoe Yi is a fifth grader with high aspirations. She is an avid rock climber who recently scored 10th in the nation at the 2018 USA Climbing Bouldering Youth National Championship. This competition is divided into age groups, and Zoe competed in the 10 and under division. According to Zoe, at Nationals, there are three to five climbs for each contestant, and four minutes is put on the clock for each climb. The score is based on how high the climber reaches and how many falls, if any, the climber experiences. Zoe is proud to have been to Nationals twice and is extremely dedicated to her sport, practicing three times or more per week for two hours each practice. “My life as a climber started when I attended a rock climbing summer camp at The Wall Climbing Gym when I was eight years old. I absolutely adore the sport! I joined the team and started competing a couple months later,” revealed Zoe.

When Zoe first joined The Wall Climbing Gym, there was only one other member on the competitive team. In just two-and-a-half years, the team has grown quite a bit. “Now there are two teams, one is recreational and one is competitive. Between the two teams, there are 30 kids altogether,” stated Zoe. She is not only thrilled with the growth of local rock climbing, but also with how much attention the sport has received throughout the world. “Rock climbing is going to be a sport in the 2020 Olympic Games,” related Zoe proudly. She is quick to cite Ashima Shiraishi, the world’s best female rock climber, as her inspiration in the sport.


Name: Zoe Yi (10)
School: The Rhoades School
Grade: 5
Parents: Weilie Yi and Zhu Zhen
Sibling: Mia Yi (6)
Favorite Places in Carlsbad: Alga Norte Park, Carlsbad Dove Library, The Baked Bear (ice cream sandwich!), and my home.

In addition to rock climbing, Zoe loves being creative. She enjoys making animated videos, creating comics, and developing games on Scratch, a coding app. “I also love LEGO, Rubik’s cubes, and drawing mazes that include unexpected twists,” said Zoe, who attends The Rhodes School. While in school, she especially enjoys her P.E. and technology classes.

It isn’t surprising that Zoe’s future goals include becoming a professional rock climber and competing in the Olympics someday. “I’d also like to be an American Ninja Warrior and a LEGO designer. It is important to me that I give back, so I also want to participate in more volunteer work so that I can make a real impact in the community,” said Zoe.