Shawn Raboutou (13) has done the short and steep Welcome to Tijuana at Rodellar, Spain and thereby his first 8c. Shawn is the son of Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou and Didier Raboutou, so I guess the tale about the apple and the tree isn't entirely untrue.
Especially so as Shawn's younger sister, Brooke (10), has redpointed a number of routes in the 7c to 8a+ range this summer. Her hardest to date remains Swingline, 8b, in the RRG, however.
Robyn did quite well too, onsighting and flashing a few 8a's and redpointing one 8b+ and one 8b.
Earlier this summer I asked Shawn and Brooke a few questions:
Why do you think you've become such a good climber at such a young age? Would you say physical or mental aspects are most important?
Do you have any specific goals with your climbing?
Shawn: I prefer to climb outdoors rather than indoors and I prefer redpoint over onsight. I also really like to boulder.
Brooke: I like to link hard routes for me. I really like everything.
Shawn: I'm sure I'm a good climber because I've been climbing since I was very young. You must be good physically and mentally because if you aren't good at both you will fail.
Shawn and Brooke: YES!
Do you ever think about it like that?
Shawn and Brooke: Not really.
Can you feel any pressure because of it?
Shawn and Brooke: NO! Not at all.
How does all the travelling work with school? Lots of homework?
Shawn: I can't miss too much school and I often have to do my homework while we are driving to the climbing areas but it's not too bad. I prefer to go to school rather than be homeschool because I like to be social and I have a lot of friends at school.
I also asked Robyn some questions:What are the main reasons why kids get so good at such an early age compared to 20 years ago?
I think kids are just always in the "fun" mode. They take climbing lightly and easily. Most kids find climbing a fun game and they are really proud of their accomplishments.
What exactly is ABC?
ABC is an athletic facility for the very young child with and accent on indoor rock climbing. ABC stands for Agility, Balance and Coordination.
Shawn and Brooke were very young and really enjoying climbing so I decided it was time to offer that same opportunity to other kids. Now, Shawn and Brooke have over 30 team kids that love to climb just like they do. ABC for Kids Climbing works with kids from 3-8 years old and TEAM ABC is an Elite Competitive Team for kids 7-16.
Do you ever miss the competition scene? If so what is it you're missing?
I don't miss the competitive seen but I do have wonderful memories. I love coaching Team ABC at events and I am thrilled to see other kids enjoying the competitive seen as much as I did.
Do you have any contact with your old rivals?
I do. My favorite climbing partner is still Lynn and my kids. Lynn and I climb every Tuesday together and I climb with Shawn and Brooke all summer long.
There's a chance climbing will enter the Olympics in 2020. Any thoughts on that?
I think it will be good for the sport but we need to make the scoring very easy for the public to understand.
Do you have any specific goals with your climbing, other than enjoying it to the fullest?
My goal is to keep up with my kids. I enjoy climbing and I like to climb hard routes. Shawn: I prefer to climb outdoors rather than indoors and I prefer redpoint over onsight. I also really like to boulder. Brooke: I like to link hard routes for me. I really like everything.
As a kid the sport you choose sort of becomes part of your identity. In your experience, can this be a potential problem in a family where everyone practices the same sport. In the sense of building independence I mean.
I think the family that plays together, stays together. Both Shawn and Brooke have more than enough independence. They do lots of climbing with their friends but I'm the one that always gets them to practice or to the outdoor climbing area. They always thank me for making the long drives and setting everything up. If you had to say one thing you're the most proud of, what would that be?
I'm most proud of ABC and what it brings to the community and today's youth. I'm also proud to be a mother and have such a wonderful relationship with my kiddos.