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[February 2018] Schmidt climbs through thick and thin

Chelsea Fox ’19


Most Staples student athletes spend their afternoons in the gym shooting hoops or out on the track running laps; however, Hannah Schmidt can be found in Fairfield working hard at her climbing gym, Rock Climb Fairfield. When given a rope, a harness and a 50 foot wall, Schmidt can do incredible things.

Although it took a while to find her true love for climbing, the process happened very naturally.

“At first I went to a few birthday parties, then I joined the club,” Schmidt said. The club was available to individuals who were interested in rock climbing, but not yet ready to be competitive.

However, recreational climbing was not enough to satisfy Schmidt. It was not long before she joined the rock climbing competition team and started going to competitions almost every weekend.

The uniqueness of both the sport and the team hooked her into the activity. “Everyone on my team is so different as far as ability goes,” Schmidt said. “My strengths are someone else’s weakness and vice versa.”

Not only do team members vary in ability, but each competition route is ensured to be different than the previous. “[With different climbs] you’re always surprised, but you are willing to work hard,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt explained that starting to climb competitively is the easy part, but continuing to progress requires dedication. “It is easy to get really good really fast,” Schmidt said, “[…]but then you hit that point where you plateau for a while and then you realize ‘Oh man, now I have to start training super super hard.’”

Science teacher Kristin Scott knows Schmidt from both in and outside of the classroom. Schmidt is a former chemistry student of Scott and is also friends with Scott’s daughter, who competes on the climbing team.

Scott explained that both as a student and as a rock climber, Schmidt is able to stay focused under pressure. “Where other students would panic or get frustrated when things got difficult [in chemistry], she always stayed very calm,” Scott said. “[This] is the same thing she does when she is hanging from two fingers on a wall.”

Although Schmidt has mastered the ability to stay calm under pressure, she does have trouble managing 12-15 hours of climbing a week. “In the beginning it was hard for her to realize the depth of commitment rock climbing took on her,” Justin Schmidt ’19, Hannah’s twin brother, said. “It’s definitely a challenge [for Hannah] to balance everything out.”

Despite hardships presented in training, Hannah Schmidt climbs on. “You are never doing the same thing everyday,”she said. “It’s definitely uncommon, but that’s why I like it.”

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