I couldn’t believe it when I received the acceptance email… My dreams of a career in guiding were moving forward. The first year of the Mountain Hardwear LGBTQIA2S+ affinity course brought longing, and I wanted to apply, but the prerequisite of 15 trad leads held me back. At that point, I had been searching for a trad climbing mentor, but I wasn’t able to find one.
I’m queer, Vietnamese-American, assigned female at birth, a child of refugees, and non-binary. I don’t see many people at the crag or gym like me, let alone thriving professionally in climbing, so my search for climbing knowledge and growth was very solitary.
Another year of the course passed and my best belaytionship and I further developed our plan for climbing careers. We would marry mental health and climbing in a program that would center the BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ communities. With renewed passion, I dove into outdoor meetups organized by my local BIPOC climbing organization, Climb the Gap, and they helped me bridge the gap from my knowledge fervently gained in books and videos to application on real rock, giving me the confidence to tackle trad leads.