Norah Chi Climbs Her Way to Success


Some people are intimidated by challenges. Norah Chi isn’t one of those people. The Laurel Springs School senior says she was destined to pick up the sport of competitive climbing and bouldering at the age of 10. Love of the sport, she says, is in her blood.

Family Ties

“My mom actually climbed in college for a little bit, so she wanted me to try out rock climbing,” Norah explains. “And there was a rock climbing gym, about five minutes away from my house. So I remember going into there then wanting to sign up for the rock climbing team. I was on the advanced team right away, and I fell in love with it.”

Her path to rock climbing wasn’t as straightforward as one might think, however. As Norah recounts, she tried many different sports before climbing and nothing really stuck. Her trajectory changed, though, when she found climbing.

Relishing Competition

Hard work, determination, and consistency have paid off. Last year, Norah qualified to compete in the 2022 World Championships in Russia. While she elected not to compete due to the pandemic, her accomplishments thus far are worthy of notoriety.

"This competition is associated with USA Climbing, which hosts all the climbing comps in the United States,” she says. "I am in the category FYA (female youth A). And with this win, I was able to qualify for (IFSC - Climbing World Championships). But I also won the combined award, which means I would've been able to compete in all three disciplines (sport, speed, and boulders).”

 In November 2021, Norah competed at the YETI Climbing National Championships hosted in Salt Lake City from Nov. 12-17, where she made it to the finals and placed sixth in the adult lead category.

As she continues to progress in her climbing career, Norah says there’s still no better feeling than the first time she won Nationals at age 13.

In her words, “I remember it was such an awesome feeling that all my hard work was paying off and I was seeing results. At that point, I was hooked.”

That doesn’t mean any of this is easy. The sport is equal parts physical and mental. To that end, Norah says she relies on meditation—a skill she’s had to learn over time—to calm her mind and nerves.

“When I was younger, the nerves would really get to me and I would get super stressed and anxious,” she says. “But now I feel like I've learned to kind of deal with the mental game and drown out all the thoughts. I can push them away and only focus on the task in front of me.”

Norah Chi Brings Her A-Game

Speaking of focusing, doing well in school doesn’t happen by chance but by design. Life can get busy between training and school, but she does her best to prioritize education, with support from her family. As Norah puts it, “My parents always say my education comes first, even before climbing.”

Enter: Laurel Springs. Norah says online programs have helped her juggle all her obligations.

If I went to [a traditional brick-and-mortar] school, I would have so many set hours in school and then homework afterward,” she says. “And I don't even know how I would fit in training with all of that.”

Flexibility is not only important at this phase in Norah’s life—it’s essential. She also can’t speak more highly of the instructors.

“I can email my teachers whenever I want (and especially) if I'm having trouble with a specific topic,” she says. “I try to figure things out on my own, but there have been cases where I do reach out and I'm like, ‘hey, I need help with this. I'm stuck with this.’ And they’re super helpful. They'll give me resources to study.”


So what lies ahead for this dynamo student-athlete?

Upon graduation, she’s not sure where life will take her. She’s considering taking a gap year and perhaps relocating to the Boston area.

“I know a lot of people who go to college there and also there's a lot of climbing gyms in the area,” she says. “And it's also not too far from where my parents and family live. I also love Canada, so I could drive up (there) if I really want.”