Brooke Raboutou spent the early months of quarantine turning her home into a climbing gym—and yes, it’s much more interesting than the YouTube yoga and downstairs-neighbor-friendly cardio workouts many of us explored. In various viral videos, one could watch the professional climber complete an epic version of “The Floor Is Lava” game at a level only an elite athlete can pull off. In one video, Raboutou maneuvers around her kitchen countertops, hanging upside-down by her fingertips; in another she scales an exposed stone wall in her living room; and in yet another she bafflingly hovers inches off the floor balancing on the molding of her basement wall. Now, 16 months later, Raboutou climbs with slightly higher stakes: The 20-year-old is competing on Team USA in the Tokyo Games, where climbing will make its Olympic debut starting August 3.
Raboutou started climbing when she was just 12 months old. As a child, she was already breaking records—at 11, she became the youngest person in the world to climb a 5.14b—and now she’s making history again both as the first U.S. climber to qualify for an Olympic Games and as a member of the inaugural U.S. climbing team. (For those unfamiliar, climbing grades can be a little complicated, but anything above a 5.13 grade is reserved for elite athletes only.)
When we Zoom in April, Raboutou’s training schedule is intense. “Most of the time, training entails two sessions in a day—so morning and then afternoon,” she says. “One is usually climbing-specific, and one might be more off-the-wall stuff or weights. Or we do this thing called hang boarding for climbers, which just involves working out your fingers since finger strength is so important for climbing.” Each training session lasts about three hours, and she trains five days per week.
“I have a little countdown to the Olympics on my phone,” Raboutou tells me through a giddy smile. “So it’s kind of fun to look at it and be like, ‘AH!’”
When she’s not competing and training, Raboutou is a student at the University of San Diego, though she took off a semester to train for Tokyo. Prior to the Games, she was based in Boulder, where she was born and raised. Raboutou lives with her parents, who are also professional climbers.
It’s been a year and a half since Raboutou qualified for the Games—and now, she’s just glad her time is finally here. “I can’t even say it’s sunk in yet,” she says. “Paving the way for so many young girls and other young people in the sport is an exciting place to be. And I’m hoping that I can do the best I can with it.” Here, Raboutou tells SELF about her bedtime routine—including what it’s like to live with her parents, her climbing-proof glam routine, and how she copes with the pressure of being a young and rising star.
I have a lot of stuffed animals from when I was little in every corner of my room.
I feel like I probably don’t need them there anymore, but I love having them. Then, I have a little sign above my bed that says ‘a star is born’ that I got when I was born and it’s been there ever since.
I always brush my teeth and wash my face. All that helps tell my brain that it’s time to go to bed.
I use Aveda’s Botanical Kinetics Hydrating Rich Creme every morning and night. It’s very thick, which is good because my skin is very dry, especially in Colorado. Then I always put on ChapStick, because my lips get really dry too. My skincare is definitely very simple, I would say, but it does the job. When I’m competing, I always like to put on mascara and maybe highlighter. Just a little bit of spice, but I don’t wear much makeup.
I just got a puppy, so I always say goodnight to her.
My parents got a chocolate Golden Doodle. She sleeps in my parents’ room, but she’ll come down the hallway and say goodnight to me. I get to snuggle with her for a little bit.
My hands get really thin from climbing a lot, and I sometimes get cuts and bruises.
So I use a product called climbOn, which is really good for healing splits and just thin skin overall. I don’t use it every single day, but I always have that on my bedside table. It’s the last thing I would put on before bed so that if I’m touching things, it’s not messy.