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Jillian Vordick


Jillian Vordick, born in 2003, is an American rock climber from Rockville, Maryland. Although early in her outdoor climbing career, Jillian has already managed to put away the routes ‘Proper Soul’ (8b+/5.14a) in the New River Gorge, West Virginia and ‘Double Dare’ (7c+/5.13a) at the Hanging Garden, North Carolina, as well as boulders ‘Raining Choss’ (V10/7C+) in Boone, North Carolina and flashed ‘Odin’ (V9/7C) at the New River Gorge, West Virginia.

Jillian began climbing when she was 9 and, upon discovering her love for the sport, joined her local climbing team where she competed on the USAC youth circuit for 10 years.

“When I was 14, I made my first trip to the New River Gorge in West Virginia. It was only the fourth time I had gone on an outdoor sport climbing trip. I distinctly remember walking into The Cirque — home to one of the East Coast’s most impressive sport cliffs, stacked with routes 8b+/5.14a and harder — and wondering how anyone could even make it to the top of one of the routes. I got shut down on ‘Graffiti’ (7a+/5.12a), and thought sport climbing just wasn’t for me.

The next year, I had a similar experience when I watched a friend from our gym send ‘Pod’, one of the classic 8a/5.13b routes. I could barely fathom climbing that hard on real rock. When I tried to climb outside, I struggled to figure out where the holds were, and I felt like I didn’t know how to grab anything.”

Jillian continued to compete into her teenage years but found herself falling out of love with competition climbing. She was stuck: climbing outside felt impossible and comp climbing inside brought her little joy.

It was during her sophomore year of college, just after she turned 20, that she re-discovered her psych. She started routesetting and coaching at a nearby climbing gym which reignited her love for the sport.

Then in the summer of 2023, a friend invited her to go sport climbing at the Hanging Garden: a steep, exposed quartzite cliff in central North Carolina.

“On my first trip there, I felt like I had finally found joy in my climbing again. On my fourth trip I sent ‘Double Dare’, my first 7c+/5.13a.”

A few weeks later, she returned to the New River Gorge for the first time since high school, determined to keep her rejuvenated psych alive. She surprised herself with a quick send of ‘Pod’ (8a/5.13b), a route she never even thought she would try. She returned again and again in the following weeks. She knew she wanted to try something hard, and she knew it had to be there.

At the end of August, she started trying ‘Proper Soul’, a beautiful 8b+/5.14a (just a few routes away from ‘Graffiti’, the 7a+/5.12a that made her swear off sport climbing 5 years prior). The route was a perfect mix of sustained, pumpy climbing with three distinct and diverse crux sections. After a month and half of weekend trips, she sent the route. It was her first 8b+/5.14a, just three months after her first 7c+.

“After sending ‘Proper Soul’, one of my close friends told me “this is just the beginning,” and that’s exactly how it felt. I was still extremely new to hard sport climbing, and really to climbing outside in general. A few months later, I started my first outdoor bouldering season and climbed my first 7C+/V10 boulder.

I am extremely excited and honored to have the assistance of Lattice Training as I navigate the beginning of this new chapter in my climbing career. In 2024, I’ll be making trips to Ceuse, France and Rifle, Colorado to expand my horizons and gain exposure on new types of rock. I don’t know where the year will take me, but I know one thing: I love projecting.

My experience with Proper Soul taught me that the reason I had such a hard time finding joy in competition climbing was because there were too many factors: time limits, external pressure, competitors, judges, audiences, etc. Where I truly thrive is when I’m alone on the wall with a hard sequence in front of me. This is what I want to dig into this year.”

Jillian has big goals for the summer and autumn seasons. She would like to push herself to start a big-season project, probably in the 8c+ range. A few routes she has in mind are ‘Pure Imagination’ and ‘Southern Smoke’ at the Red River Gorge. She would also like to work through some of the classic 8b+ and 8c routes across the East Coast, including ‘Southern Comfort’ in the Concave and ‘China Beach’ in Rumney.