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Words With Top Comp Climber Kyle Murdoch

Kyle Murdoch is a top climber who is currently ranked first in Sport Climbing B.C.’s Junior category and third in Open for Bouldering.

Kyle is based in Port Coquitlam, where he spends most of his time outside of school at the climbing gym. He has competed internationally as a member of the Canadian National Team and as he turns 18 this summer, he shows no signs of slowing down.

Kyle climbing on his home wall in 1999. Photo Shane Murdoch
Kyle climbing on his home wall in 1999. Photo Shane Murdoch

How long have you been climbing and where was your first outdoor/indoor climb?

I would say I have been climbing for around 15 or 16 years depending on how you look at it. My parents built a small climbing wall in our house before I was born (which we expanded when I was three) and I have been hanging off it since before I could walk.

The first time I climbed outdoors was at a crag called Burgers and Fries in Squamish when I was six years old.

Kyle climbing at Burgers and Fries in 2005.
Kyle climbing at Burgers and Fries in 2005.

Is your family into climbing?

Both of my parents love climbing just about as much as I do (maybe a little less though) and they have climbed three days a week for as long as I can remember.

They liked it so much they built a small bouldering wall in our house as I said previously. My younger sister, Kinsey, has a pair of climbing shoes and a harness but only climbs a few times a month if we’re lucky, she would rather dance than climb.

What was your first comp and where was it?

The first comp I ever competed in was SBC at Stone Gardens in 2007. My dad and I have gone to Seattle for comps every year since, it has become a tradition for us to drive down for a comp or two every year.

First Comp at Stone Gardens in 2007. Photo Shane Murdoch
Kyle’s first comp at Stone Gardens in 2007. Photo Shane Murdoch

How did you feel back then about comps?

Back then even though I still loved competing I didn’t care so much about how I did and I wasn’t at all serious with them. I really just enjoyed being given my problems and trying them. Whether I did them or couldn’t do the first move it didn’t make a difference to me, I just loved trying them.

When did you join a team?

I joined a climbing team at Cliffhanger Coquitlam (now called Climb Base 5) in 2008. I still wasn’t nearly as serious as I am today about competing but I started to climb more regularly. Since then I have trained at The Edge, The Hive, and I am currently training back at Base 5.

Your first World Youth comp was in Saanich in 2013, what other major comps have you taken part in and how did you do?

I’ve been fortunate enough to make the National Youth Team the last three years. I competed at the World Youth Championships in Saanich in 2013, New Caledonia in 2014 and Arco Italy in 2015.

I also competed in Mexico City at the PanAm games in 2014. I made semi-finals at my first two Youth Championships but I missed out this year by half a move. I qualified for lead finals at the PanAm games in 1st place but dropped to seventh after finals.

Kyle on deck with Adam Ondra at Chamonix World Cup 2015. Photo Iain Stewart-Patterson
Kyle on deck with Adam Ondra at Chamonix World Cup 2015. Photo Iain Stewart-Patterson

Last season, I also qualified for the National Open Lead Team, with a sixth place finish in Open at Nationals, which allowed me to compete in my first lead World Cups. I went to Europe for a month to compete at the World Cups in Chamonix, Brioncon and Imst.

My best result was in Imst where I finished 58th. I finished 71st in Brioncon and 74th in Chamonix. Although I would have loved to finish higher, I was still super happy with my placings in my first World Cups.

What is your favourite part about international competitions?

I love competing in international competitions because of this size of them, it’s truly amazing how far climbing goes across the world and getting my ass kicked in a world cup is the single most motivating thing I have done, seeing the world class competitors and competing next to them is what I live for.

Kyle competing at the Youth World Championship in Arco Italy 2015. Photo Shane Murdoch
Kyle competing at the Youth World Championship in Arco Italy 2015. Photo Shane Murdoch

Seeing the climbing community on such a big scale across the world is one thing that keeps me motivated and inspired to train as hard as I can and get back onto the world-class routes and problems set at these events.

How do you prepare for them?

As far as preparing for international competitions, there is not much difference than when I prepare for Canadian Nationals or a local, just on a bigger scale. I have much more time to prepare during the break following nationals which is usually a few months.

I’m careful to peak during the comp and will use the time to really hone down on what my coaches and I agree that is my biggest weakness at the moment.

What have the comps of 2015/16 been like?

I always like to take a break from climbing and training at the end of the season, so like most years it was a slow start. The first few comps where rough but getting those out of the way, I was able to get back into the groove.

The season since then has been fantastic, and I’m happy with my results throughout it. I felt really great, finishing the local boulder comps with a 1st place in Junior and a third place in Open, in the first Ground Up comp in Squamish.

Is there pressure to maintain or improve?

I always keep pressure on myself to improve. There are tons of strong guys and they’re always improving and working harder and harder so if I want to stay high up in the field I need to work just as much.

I really want to make both Youth National Teams again this year and it’s not going to be easy.

Kyle competing at Ground Up in Squamish in 2016. Photo Shane Murdoch
Kyle competing at Ground Up in Squamish in 2016. Photo Shane Murdoch

When is your next comp?

My next comp is on Youth Boulder Nationals on Feb. 13 at The Boulderz in Toronto. My placement in this comp will determine if I am able to compete in bouldering at the Youth World Championships in China this November.

It feels like it’s taking so long to get here and I’m insanely psyched to get there and throw all I’ve got at it. I can’t wait to see how it goes.

Where do you train?

I train three days a week at Climb Base 5 with the youth comp team, coached by Mathew Johnson (who I have been training with for over four years now), Kaleb Thomas and Andrew Wilson. For cross training, I work out at Freestyle Fitness with Chris Winter two days a week.

What is your favourite pre-comp and post-comb food?

Before a comp I love a good fettuccine alfredo, one of my favourite dinners regardless and I always feel like I climb good after having some carbs before a comp.

After a comp I absolutely love a bowl of Creamy Craft Dinner with some European wieners cut up in it and a side of ketchup, unless I’m at the Edge in North Vancouver then Sushi Man is a must after a comp.

You have sent a number of 5.13s outdoors. What was your proudest send?

As far as my proudest send goes that’s a no brainer, it’s of course my first 5.13, Division Bell 5.13d in Squamish which I got during a small camping trip with my team at Cheakamus Cannon back in July 2014, right before my 16th birthday.

Kyle and climbers previewing Open finals at Nationals in 2015. Photo Shane Murdoch
Kyle, Sean McColl and other competitors previewing Open finals at Nationals in 2015. Photo Shane Murdoch

I messed around with a few other 5.13s in the years prior, but when I went to project outside it was the only thing I wanted to climb.

Do you have any big projects for 2016?

This summer I would really like to send the Pulse, a 5.14a, which shares the same finish as Division Bell. I’ve worked it a few times and it feels like it could go down this year with a few trips.

I’m also going to the Red River Gorge for nine days this March and I’m hoping to find some good projects while I’m down there. I also want to dabble in more trad climbing during the summer, when I’m not sport climbing or bouldering, and test myself on some harder climbs, I’ve never tried anything harder than a 5.11a trad.

Who are two climbers you look up to?

Two climbers I look up to are for sure Sean McColl and Mathew Johnson. Both these guys are crazy strong and just awesome and motivating to watch climb. How far Sean has taken his climbing from right here in Vancouver blows my mind.

He is always amazing to watch in comps or to climb with when I get the chance. For those who don’t know him, Matt is my coach and a Canadian National team coach for the past two years, aside from being an amazing coach he is an awesome climber who I always look up to and try to learn from.

Kyle stoked on climbing back in 2005 at Burgers and Fries in Squamish.
Kyle stoked on climbing back in 2005 at Burgers and Fries in Squamish

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