The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Junior mountaineer scales his way to the top

Nick Wood
GETTING A GRIP: Junior Cooper Lieberknecht scales a wall with a negative incline. Lieberknecht competes in rock climbing at Crux Climbing Center.

Fingers clutched up against the crimps, junior Cooper Lieberknecht uses his unique strength and problem solving to continue his away up the wall.

Lieberknecht has been climbing for two years, beginning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lieberknecht found interest in the sport after seeing his father go out several times a week.

“I began just because I wanted to exercise more,” Lieberknecht said. “My dad also rock climbs, so I began going with him about once a week. I wasn’t very interested in it until I joined the new climbing gym and it just motivated me to start working very hard. ”

Crux Climbing Center, which has two locations in Austin, is the primary training sport for both Lieberknecht and his teammates. Crux is an indoor climbing facility with several different tracks for climbers at different levels.

“I typically train about four times a week,” Lieberknecht said. “I have two team practices a week and I will go on my own another couple times.  The team practices have much stricter regimens compared to when I’m just having fun with my friends. It definitely gets tiring but it works for me.”

Crux hosts competitions against other climbing centers. Lieberknecht is a part of one of their several teams, all with different ages and skill levels. Sophomore Ada Louderback has been teammates with Lieberknecht since September.

“I have been competing competitively in rock climbing for two years,” Louderback said. “I really love competing, especially at the higher levels. Last year I was fortunate enough to make it to divisionals which was an amazing opportunity to be able to compete with the strongest girls in the state.”

In order for Lieberknecht and his team to succeed, they had to create some different workouts in order to achieve the best results come competition time. At Crux, there are three seasons per year, consisting of four to five competitions every season.

“With climbing being such a competitive sport we have to get creative in order to do the best we can,” Louderback said. “We incorporate finger exercises, weightlifting and cardio. It’s very important to have a strong mentality as well so we will do mental training sometimes.”

Crux Climbing Center, which has two locations in Austin, is the primary training sport for both Lieberknecht and his teammates. Crux is an indoor climbing facility with several different tracks for climbers at different levels. (Nick Wood)

Alongside Louderback is Lucas Barnard. Barnard is a dual enrollment student at ACC Highland and teammate of Lieberknecht. Barnard has been climbing for roughly about four years, since he was around twelve.

“Cooper and I compete and do a lot of workouts together,” Barnard said. “We both work on a lot of drills that help with problem solving, strength and technique that gets us ready for competition. We also do a lot of mobility work which is very important in order to prevent injuries”


Rock climbing has allowed Barnard to travel across the country, going to parks in Illinois, Colorado and areas of west Texas.

“I prefer climbing outside much more than inside,” Barnard said. “Climbing outdoors takes more problem solving which challenges me more and I just enjoy being outside much more.”

Being teammates with Lieberknecht, Barnard has watched the progress that he has made over the last several months. Watching him compete several times as well as practicing with him every single week he has been able to watch him improve.

“We all support each other,” Barnard said. “I have watched him make tons of progress over the last few months which is cool to see. Our team is getting better and I think we are all motivated to become the best we possibly can.”

Lieberknecht had his first competition just under a month ago. The competition consisted of several different teams from across the area, the tournament was hosted at Cooper’s home gym, Crux Central Austin.

“I placed decently at it which was super cool,” Lieberknecht said. “One of my friends’ placed in the top three, which was really important for him to qualify. I was very proud of him since I know how hard he worked for it.”

Lieberknecht plans to continue competing for as long as possible. With the goal of making it into national competitions against climbers from across the country.

“As I get older I know I will get much better,” Lieberknecht said. “The whole concept of rock climbing is very rewarding, I like to work hard knowing that if I don’t someone will outwork me and I will lose my spot.”

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