The littlest Spiderwoman

Tiny Blackheathen Angie Scarth-Johnson is a national and world champion. Pictured on Blackheath Public School's new climbing wall, which was built and paid for recently by the school's parents, under the guidance of local climber Adrian Lang.

Tiny Blackheathen Angie Scarth-Johnson is a national and world champion. Pictured on Blackheath Public School's new climbing wall, which was built and paid for recently by the school's parents, under the guidance of local climber Adrian Lang.

In the world of climbing she's considered a prodigy.

Blackheath 10-year-old Angie Scarth-Johnson may only be a little over 1.2 metres tall but she's already been crowned the national champion in the under 11 age group for three years running.

Last year she also became the youngest person in the world to climb a grade 31 -currently 38 is the hardest grade in the world. (Some climbers with 20 years' experience admit they haven't the skills to go beyond a grade 25 but the pint-sized climber can use small handholds that others can't use, to compensate for her short reach.)

Angie says she sometimes sits in her Year 4 classroom at Blackheath Public School and "dreams of climbing the smart board, up onto the ceiling ... I'll climb anything, I love climbing so much."

Parents Claudia Lopez, a social worker, and Tek Scarth-Johnson, a plumber, are both "non climbers", but made the move to the Mountains from Canberra two years ago as part of a lifestyle change and also to encourage their youngest daughter's love of the sport.

"It was one of a number of reasons [we moved here]. We used to come here a lot for [Angie's] climbing and it's just a beautiful place to live. "

Angie's start in the not-for-the-faint-hearted sport began as a seven-year-old after repeated forays up and down walls and trees that she wasn't supposed to be climbing. Then, while climbing a tree in her Canberra backyard, a branch snapped and she hit a large rock and ended up in hospital being treated for spinal injuries.

"It was a bit scary," Claudia said. "Because she was so young, doctors said, the bones in her back were more flexible and that's what helped her. We made sure she didn't do much for a couple of weeks after that."

Mum and Dad "decided soon after" Angie could start controlled climbing.

"I couldn't watch her that first year [while she competed]. She was a tiny girl on a 25 metre climb. But I didn't want to stop her because of my fears," Claudia said.

Angie's since climbed 120 metre cliffs and travelled to Europe and the United States to challenge herself on new peaks.

"She's constantly thinking up her next challenge and we sort of get conned into it," her mum said laughing.

Angie was delighted with her recent win in the 11 years and under age category at the National Climbing titles in Melbourne in July. She will be a guest panellist at a Mountains climbing festival in October. See the Review magazine for festival details.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=715353641869800&set=vb.279640655441103&type=2&theater

Angie Scarth-Johnson at Blackheath Public School

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