I grew up in the small town of Winchester, Kentucky, not far from the Red River Gorge, a world class rock climbing location. I was somewhat familiar with climbing and was even invited to climb on a couple of occasions but always turned it down because I didn’t think it was something that someone like me could do. I realized later that I’d never considered it because I never saw climbers who looked like me: plus sized or of color. I spent all this time living next to this international climbing area yet never thought it was accessible to me.
My call to action to our climbing community is to not assume someone’s climbing ability, status, or knowledge based on how they look. People assume that I’m a first time climber because I’m plus-sized and of color, but I’ve been climbing for years now, and I teach classes. I want other BIPOC friends to get the same treatment.