Kira Parker’s Instagram bio says, “I like rocks.” As a solid V8 climber working on V10’s outside, a member of the University of Utah climbing team, and a competitor at last year’s USA Climbing Bouldering Youth Nationals, Kira doesn’t just like rocks — she dominates them. As a freshman majoring in math and computer science, a participant in the Putnam Mathematical Competition and the Mathematical Competition in Modeling, and a Presidential Scholar, she’s dominating her studies as well.
Q: So how did you get involved with climbing?
A: When I lived in Helena [Montana], there was an athletic club and it had a little climbing wall in the racquetball court and I went there when I was in second grade…I liked it! So, I joined a team in Helena that was called the Thunderchickens. I’m still friends with everybody on the team because there were like, three of us.
Q: Why do you think you have such a passion for climbing?
A: Because it’s fun! Because you get to go and try really hard and fall off rocks all day.
Q: How often are you climbing?
A: A lot! I train four or five days a week probably for two or three hours a day. And I go outside most weekends in the fall and spring. I haven’t been outside since November because there’s snow everywhere.
Q: Where do you like to climb around here?
A: In Little Cottonwood Canyon. Or in Joe’s Valley. Or at the [Momentum climbing] gym I guess if there’s snow everywhere.
Q: What’s your favorite piece of gear?
A: My shoes! I wear La Sportiva Muiras generally because they’re really good on granite and they’re not as aggressive. And then when I climb really hard boulders outside or in important competitions, I wear Scarpas.
Q: Has it been hard to balance school with climbing?
A: Yeah, especially now with college. Senior year of high school, I only took four classes in the morning and then I went to Westminster and took math. The second semester I took abstract algebra which is the hardest class at Westminster. But it was only one really hard class so I just did a whole bunch of abstract algebra and then I climbed. But now I have like four hard classes. And last semester I did research, too. I did homework and then climbed when I wasn’t doing homework. But I lived.
Q: Why did you choose the U?
A: I chose the U five days before the deadline of March 1. And I was going to go to the University of Puget Sound but I had a climbing crisis because there’s not enough climbing there! It rains too much. And so then I was going to go to Harvey Mudd College. But then I had another climbing crisis because the gym by Harvey Mudd is not air conditioned. And if you live by Los Angeles, you need air conditioning. So I ended up at the U because it’s free [with my scholarship] and there’s climbing.
Q: What is one of your favorite climbing memories?
A: I did go to South Africa in the summer, which is pretty cool by itself. And hanging out there with a whole bunch of climbers from all over the world, and having people yell at you in different languages as you’re climbing, is just really exciting.
Q: What level are you climbing right now?
A: I’ve climbed four V10’s outside…I usually climb V8. I feel like if I went somewhere and I saw a V8 I wanted to do, I could probably do it. But not always. If there’s dyno’s involved…maybe not.
Q: So what is your favorite kind of problem?
A: Weird ones! I like arêtes a lot. But not if they’re too technical because then I have to use my feet and that’s dumb. I like powerful things. And I like heel hooks. I like things with good holds that are kind of powerful and kind of weird.