“I got into climbing mostly because everyone in my family was already climbing, even before I was born,” says 12-year-old Mirko Caballero. “I guess you could say I was born in the gym.”
The thee-time national champion in bouldering is quick to note, however, that he didn’t get serious about climbing until much later—at the ripe old age 7, after a stint as a gymnast, during which he developed good core strength and flexibility.
By age 9, Los Gatos-based Caballero sent his first V10, and the following year sent 20 V8 to V11 problems and his first 5.13a. He’s been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2010, and was named national champion in both bouldering (2011, 2012, 2013), and speed (2011, 2012). Earlier this year he took first in the advanced youth category at the Hueco Rock Rodeo.
Caballero, who emailed Outside while bouldering Magic Wood in Switzerland, says his immediate goals are to better his technique and pure power. “In the past year my power has gotten much better, but I would like to progress even further,” he says. “I like to push myself into harder and harder climbs all the time.”
He’s also branched out from bouldering to sport climbing. “I even tried some big wall climbing in Yosemite this spring,” he says, recognizing that he’s lucky to have supportive parents who allow her to travel. “I've climbed in lots of amazing crags in the USA and Europe, but I really hope I can go to South Africa and Australia soon. There are so many amazing places to climb!”