10-year-old Nate Emery of Farmington Hills is one of the top rock climbers in the country in his age group.
Nate Emery is a rock star. Or, more accurately, a rock-climbing star. At age 10.
The Farmington Hills resident has competed indoors in six states and climbed recreationally outdoors in two states. He’s one of the best in the country in his age group in two USA Climbing competitive disciplines — bouldering and sport climbing.
Nate works hard so he can stay ahead of his competition. He spends 12-15 hours a week climbing and training. He’s been a member of the Madison Heights-based Planet Rock climbing team since 2016.
“I’m not nervous when I climb in competitions,” he said. “Climbing is too much fun.”
He climbs with a purpose and with special inspiration.
He wears a black-and-blue anklet when he competes to support law enforcement.
Before each competition, he listens to the sound of his own heart on his late grandfather Dr. Allan Emery’s stethoscope.
“We tell him the heartbeat is the sound of papa cheering him on,” said Jerrold Emery, Nate’s father.
Nate is only 4-foot-7, but he’s going through a growth spurt, and he weighs 75 pounds. He’s all muscle. His body fat is 8 percent.
His signature long hair — he hasn’t had a haircut in three years — won’t be around for much longer. It’s going to be cut next month before he heads to Camp Tamarack.
About 9 inches of Nate’s locks will be trimmed off and donated to Children With Hair Loss, a not-for-profit organization based in South Rockwood that provides free hair replacement for children and young adults who have lost their hair because of an illness.
“It’s time to get my hair cut,” Nate said.
Why donate it?
“It’s a nice thing to do,” he said.
Nate will be a fifth-grader this fall at Hillside Elementary School in Farmington Hills, where he’s somewhat of a celebrity. He says he’s a good student, and he gives some credit to rock climbing.
“You have to map your route when you climb and solve problems. That’s just like school,” he said.
Nate’s latest accomplishment took place Sunday. He finished third in his age group in a two-day divisional sport climbing competition in Bloomington, Minn., and qualified for the nationals July 11-14 in Bridgeport, Pa.
Twenty climbers from 12 states competed in the age group in Minnesota. Forty-eight climbers from across the country will compete in the age group at nationals.
“I climbed with all my heart,” Nate said.
Earlier this year, Nate finished 27th in his age group in the bouldering national championships in Redmond, Ore.
The following week, he fractured a growth plate in his right arm and doctors told him not to have any physical activity for four weeks.
While Nate rested his arm, according to his father, he ate foods rich in vitamin D, drank lots of milk and ate plenty of salmon.
Seven weeks after the fracture, with little conditioning and limited strength, Nate won a sport climbing competition in Columbus, Ohio.
He went on to win three more sport climbing competitions and place third in regionals, earning a spot in the division competition.
Nate will do some outdoor climbing for fun before he heads to Pennsylvania and the bouldering nationals.
He’ll return to the Red River Gorge in Slade, Ky., better known in the climbing world as “The Red.”
Nate’s tallest climb there is 250 feet, which earned him the nickname “Ropegun,” climbing slang for the best climber in the pack.
Corey Pere, a route setter at Planet Rock, is Nate’s private coach. Nate works with him one or two days a week and with the Planet Rock climbing team two or three days a week.
“I simply don’t have the words to accurately express how much of an impact Corey has had on Nate’s climbing journey,” said Jerrold Emery.
“Nate loves climbing. It’s a pure and remarkable type of passion not typically seen in 10-year-olds. To a large extent, it’s because of coaches like Corey that Nate loves the sport.”
Pere works with Nate on the technical aspects of climbing, even making sure his shoes are a perfect fit.
“To loosely quote Corey, ‘At Nate’s level of climbing, it’s the tiniest details that make all the difference,’” Jerrold Emery said.
Becca Saag, Nate’s coach with the Planet Rock team and a friend and mentor, said Nate is incredibly passionate about climbing “and you can see that every time he gets on the wall.”
“He wants to climb outside of practice and spend as much time at the gym as he can.
Honestly, it’s hard to keep him off the walls.”
Nate’s mother is Carolyn Emery. The family attends Temple Israel in West Bloomfield.
Want to learn more about Nate and his rock climbing?
Check out his YouTube channel at youtube.com/ropegunnate and his Instagram account