Climbing to the top


Gareth Mullins, Staff Writer

Mountain climbing is a very demanding sport. One needs a level head, a sense of taking risks, and a love for heights.
These same characteristics can be attributed to extremely successful test takers (thankfully, however, heights are not in the memo).

Who can become a master in both activities? Enter the world of senior Piper Boudart, who was recently named a finalist for a National Merit Scholarship.

Boudart is a multitalented individual who has taken to the risky sport of mountain climbing since she was in fourth grade.

She clearly is skilled in the craft of rock climbing, since she has also been competing in it – and has been very successful in those situations – for a long time.

In explaining those highly physical competitions, Boudart said that they are “based on the difficulty of the route you have to climb, rather than how fast you can climb the wall, as people often assume.” All of the competitors climb the same route, with the climber who climbs the highest on that route winning the competition.

“Essentially each hold you can get to on the climbing wall is worth a point,” she said.

Boudart has made it to the top of both the wall and the competition due to her intensive training regime to keep both her body and her mental capability top-notch for her climbing. She pushes herself at the North Wall Climbing Gym four to five times a week in order to keep herself in shape. She also does core workouts every single day to stay fit.

Looking back at her career, Boudart said that her hardest climb had to be climbing a V8 grade climb (climbs are measured in intensity from V0 to V16). Her favorite climb is a route called “Onyx” in southern Illinois that’s a V7.

What pushes Boudart to attempt these difficult feats is what the sport demands of her. She loves the challenge and using problem-solving strategies to her advantage. This skillset doesn’t just help her athletically; it helps her in the classroom, too.

That very problem-solving talent worked out well for her when she had to take the test that made her a finalist for the National Merit Scholarship: the dreaded PSAT. On test day, her level-headed thinking helped her through it, along with a very positive attitude.

These two amazing traits of hers helped her secure the score she needed to become a National Merit finalist — a score that less than one percent of students in the entire country achieve. This is truly an amazing feat, which makes Boudart qualified to potentially receive at least $2,500 in scholarship money.

If she receives the money, she hopes to use it toward her education at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, where the the mountains are high and rock climbing is an everyday part of life on campus. Piper really hopes to climb the “Garden of the Gods” and many other locations around Boulder, Colorado.

In addition to climbing mountains, she will also spend time at Colorado College majoring in both Organismal Biology and Ecology.

So, whenever you see her in the hallways, in class, or even on a mountain, be sure to give her a pat on the back and wish her luck in winning a prestigious award that she really deserves.