A Look into Our Climbing Team | Nationals with Nat

By Nat Vorel

1.  Can you tell readers a little bit more about yourself?

Yes! I’m 24 years old hailing from OKC, Oklahoma, which is where I grew up. I actually didn’t start climbing until I was 18 at my college’s climbing wall. Before that, I was a competitive swimmer, and swimming is actually what sent me off to college with a scholarship in Minnesota. I have a theatre degree, and work with my local union on Broadway touring productions as well as other tours. I watch a lot of movies, and spend quite a bit of time at my local movie theater. I also have three matching tabby cats.

2.  Did you have any specific moments from Nationals that stuck out to you?  Maybe a favorite part, most challenging part, or something that was just a ton of fun?

One of my favorite things to do at comps is actually help people sequence routes for their particular adaptation. It helps me as a routesetter and as a climber, and gives me something to do to waste time while I rest so I don’t overthink my routes. I did quite a bit of that at Nationals, and got to see people crush their routes. My most challenging part of Nationals was probably our third qualifier route, which had a left foot jab that was incredibly difficult for me since my left leg is partially paralyzed. I got quite frustrated over it, but managed to finally stick it on my third attempt.

3.  I know you are working toward getting an SPI through the AMGA as well as working as a routesetter, where do you find the time to train for comp season?

I spend probably close to 60 hours in a climbing gym every week. I usually do my workouts right when I get done with setting, because I’m already warmed up at that point, and it’s often hard for me to go back to the gym after getting home from work. I also usually try to get a day or two outside per week if I can manage, so I can practice a lot of my systems. Climbing is kind of one of the only things I have time for during comp season.

4.  What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who is just getting into competitive paraclimbing?

Definitely reach out and join the community. Before I started competitively paraclimbing, I knew zero disabled people, and didn’t even consider myself disabled because I could keep up with my able bodied friends just fine. But it was a really isolated place, and meeting people in the community really changed my perspective on disability. Also, our community is just awesome.

5.  What’s next for you?  Will you be attending Worlds in SLC?  Any other comp plans?

I’ll be at SLC for the World Cup. I also am currently in the middle of my local gym’s boulder league, and hoping to make finals in that. I try to do a lot of comps even if they don’t have a para category so I can keep my mental space for comps in good condition. I’ll also be in Bern for the World Champs this season. Between that, I’m sure I’ll compete in some local comps.

6.  Anything else you would like to share!

Keep crushing!

Photo Decriptions:

Photo 1: Nat climbing at the Paraclimbing Nationals.  He is on a route with pink and white holds and is holding two crimps and looking up at the next holds.  His hair is dyed pink and he is wearing a black, Paradox Sports tank top and black shorts.  Photo courtesy of Daniel Gajda (@gajdaphotography)

Photo 2: Another photo from Paraclimbing Nationals.  Nat is climbing a route with large green and white holds.  He is holding a larger, juggy undercling with his right hand while he chalks up his left hand.  The route starts vertical and moves into an overhang.  Nat is just about to start the overhung section of the route.  Photo courtesy of Daniel Gajda (@gajdaphotography)

Photo 3: Nat is standing on the podium with two other climbers.  They are all wearing medals and smiling at the camera.  To his right is another Paradox Sports teammate, Lindsay.  In the background is a drop down with logos from USA Climbing, The North Face, Yeti, and Prudential.  Photo courtesy of Daniel Gajda (@gajdaphotography)

Photo 4: A photo of Nat from behind.  Nat is wearing a black tank top with the Paradox Sports logo in the upper middle portion of the back.  Below that is his climbing bib for the comp.  In the background is a climbing wall and a handful of people sitting and standing.

Photo 5:  Nat is sitting in his harness on one of the climbs and looking up at the wall.  The route has large, pink and blue sloper holds.  Nat is wearing the same black Paradox Sports tanktop from the photo before.  Photo courtesy of Daniel Gajda (@gajdaphotography)

Photo 6: Nat climbing side by side with another climber at Paraclimbing Nationals.  He has a high left foot on a volume and his hands are matched on a pink and blue hold.  There is another climber on the route closer to the camera who is climbing about 10 feet lower than Nat.  Photo courtesy of Daniel Gajda (@gajdaphotography)