1 in 300: Alexa Cichon climbs to the top with Gravity Vault Middletown



Cichon climbing at Last Rope Regionals in Philadelphia with Gravity Vault Middletown’s competition team.

Evie Seetoo and Brody Lippincott

Alexa Cichon takes niche, underground pastimes to new heights with her passion for competitive rock climbing. Climbing locally and out-of-state, the junior from Neptune Township has found the perfect adventurous pastime.

Competitive rock climbing is a sport that is typically held indoors at rock gyms. There are many rock gyms across the country where climbers can go to practice and compete.

Cichon first pursued her interest in rock climbing in sixth grade and has been training three days a week at Gravity Vault in Middletown ever since. She explained that a large part of her training includes lifting weights and conditioning, which she does for six to eight hours a week.

Out of the various benefits of the sport, the best thing climbing has brought to her is lots of friends she wouldn’t have otherwise met. In fact, the people she often climbs with are an essential part of her training regimen. Cichon trains and practices with a group consisting of young climbers she considers not just teammates but also amazing friends.

In addition to being physically demanding, Cichon describes climbing as a mental sport and explains that without a good mindset, athletes can begin to doubt themselves.

“If you’re not in the right mental space, you think you’re doing bad, and then you start actually climbing badly,” Cichon said. “When you’re not focused, you feel like everyone is better than you.”

There are four main types of rock climbing: mountaineering, sport, rope and bouldering. Cichon competes in rope and bouldering, and points are usually scored based on how high a competitor was able to climb in a set time limit.

“Recently, I think that I’m getting towards my best because at [local competitions], I’ve been getting first place consistently,” Cichon said. “I think mostly it’s validation towards myself and the fact that I’m working towards my goals.”

After graduating from high school, Cichon plans to continue her passion by competing locally and climbing recreationally.

“These people are climbing outdoors and doing things that have never been done before,” Cichon said. “Like it can be anyone and I just think that’s so inspiring.”