Jacob Dorion climbs along the sea wall near Oak Bay marina. The 16-year old rock climber specializes in speed but enjoys lead climbing as well.

Oak Bay teen makes a speedy climb to Canadian national team

During the 13 most critical seconds of a competition, Jacob Dorion doesn’t think.

During the 13 most critical seconds of a competition, Jacob Dorion doesn’t think.

The speed-climbing Oak Bay teen lets training take over.

“You don’t think about where you’re putting your hands and your feet. You have to know where you’re going,” the 16-year-old explains. “You’re not thinking. You’ve already thought about it. You know what you’re going to do.”

His best time for flying up a 15-metre race wall is 12.67 seconds and 7.46s for the 10-metre. Times good enough to snag a spot on the Canadian National Youth Climbing Team.

“There’s something about speed climbing. It’s dynamic. It’s like a 100-metre sprint except with your whole body,” he says.

“It combines that hyper-athletic gymnastics with a head game. It’s almost like a puzzle.”

Like many young climbers on the South Island, he trains with The Boulders team at Stelly’s secondary in Central Saanich. Only about 18 months into competitive climbing, his roots run deeper. Dorion started as a lad clambering along with his dad, an avid climber. In search of a sport to really throw himself into, he opted to give climbing a shot. Now a speed specialist, he doesn’t get home most days until around 8 p.m. He trains at the climbing wall five days a week and hits the gym the other two. Weighted pull ups are a favourite (nudge and wink) of the “torture exercises.”

“He’s very passionate about climbing and he works very hard,” said Kimanda Jarzebiak, chair of the not-for-profit society that runs the Boulders.

At the recent national championships in Montreal, all 12 of the Boulders’ speed athletes earned places in the finals; 10 took home medals. While Dorion finished fourth, it was only by three-hundredths of a second and a personal best.

As a member of the national team, Dorion plans to attend training camp in Canmore, Alta. the first week of July and has invites to attend World Cup competition on the Pacific Island of New Caledonia and the Pan Am Games in Mexico in November.

“Climbing has one of the best communities, … I feel close to people all over the country,” he says. “I’ve trained with some of the best climbers in the world.”

Just last week Dorion’s coach Libor Hroza, who hopes to challenge the 15-metre wall world record, flew up the Boulders’ speed wall in six seconds. It wasn’t official or documented, but impressive enough with just his climbers watching. Boulders boasts the highest number of speed climbers on the national team.


“I find it really useful to train with people who can push me like that,” Dorion says.

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