Yip soon joined the Vancouver-based youth climbing program run by Andrew Wilson, her coach to this day, and she too began competing in local and national competitions. At 17, he skipped his high school graduation ceremony to compete in his first World Cup, where he ranked 18th in bouldering.
Still, throughout the years and competitions, even when Yip saw McColl triumph on the international stage, she didn’t necessarily see herself forging a career outside of the sport. She had always had other plans. “When I was little, six or seven years old, I wanted to be an inventor, just like my father, that’s what he called it… which, I realized later, was engineering,” she says with a smile. “With my dad, we used to build a lot of things around the house. We built leaf blower hovercraft [and] my brother and I raced karts that my dad built and maintained. “
Between his father, Doug, an engineer, and his mother, Moira, a family physician, he spent much of Yip’s childhood with his younger brother, Trevor, learning, building, and searching for solutions. And although she didn’t see it as a real career path, climbing came naturally. “A lot of people who climb are also engineers, computer scientists and that sort of thing,” says Yip. “I think the most important thing is that engineering and climbing are all about problem solving – dealing with something that has the fundamental building blocks to solve, but you need to find your own way to get to the top, to get the solution of that. trouble.”
In 2012, after balancing a busy climbing schedule with an even busier first year at UBC’s engineering program, Yip felt he had to choose between school and climbing, that he could no longer do both. So at 19, he had left the youth World Cup circuit and, with no elite senior climbing team to join at the time, it felt like the natural end of an era. So, he hung up his harness, put away his climbing shoes and his bag of chalk, and took the path he had always anticipated taking.