Access Fund Launches Climber Education Program with Black Diamond


We are thrilled to announce the launch of a new climber education program—ROCK Project—in partnership with Black Diamond Equipment®, a global innovator in climbing, skiing, mountain sports equipment and apparel.

Unprecedented access to indoor climbing has paved the way for astounding growth in both indoor and outdoor climbing. Many climbers receive little to no formal training or mentorship before their first outdoor climbing experience, which puts our climbing areas at risk of unmanaged impacts and access issues. The Access Fund and Black Diamond seek to address this need through ROCK Project—a first of its kind initiative designed to inspire climbers to protect the places they climb through responsible, low-impact climbing behaviors.

“It’s vital to educate the climbing community on minimizing impacts at climbing areas and to inspire behavior that will ensure continued access to the places they love,” explains Brady Robinson, executive director of the Access Fund. “Black Diamond shares these values and we’re thrilled to be working with them on this program.”

More than 1,400 indoor climbing gyms exist in North America, serving an estimated 4,300 new climbers each day. Predictably, a significant portion of those indoor climbers eventually participate in outdoor climbing as well (a 2012 study showed 27% of outdoor climbers were new to the sport). ROCK Project intends to educate and inspire this transitional segment of gym-to-crag climbers, as well as more seasoned outdoor climbers, through multi-day events with Black Diamond athletes at climbing epicenters throughout the nation. These events will build awareness of responsible outdoor climbing ethics and give climbers opportunities to practice in hands-on crag maintenance and care through Access Fund’s Adopt a Crag program.

“Black Diamond and The Access Fund are leaders in the climbing industry and community, and with our ROCK Project partnership we are continuing our unwavering commitment to climbing, climbers and climbing areas,” says Jonathan Thesenga, global sports marketing manager at Black Diamond. “We couldn’t be more stoked on this initiative and our partnership with our friends at the Access Fund. For more than 50 years we have been—and continue to be—a company of climbers, and ROCK Project embodies that heritage and commitment.”

Black Diamond’s support of ROCK Project will expand Access Fund’s education capacity, allowing the organization to build awareness and knowledge of responsible outdoor climbing ethics. Access Fund has hired Travis Herbert—a 20-year climbing veteran, experienced outdoor educator, and systems builder—to spearhead ROCK Project under the role of Education Director.

ROCK Project will work to create lasting connections between our daily habits and behaviors as climbers and our ability to keep climbing areas open and conserve the climbing environment. The ROCK Project initiative will include a web-based toolbox that aggregates existing and newly developed educational materials, programming, templates, exemplary case studies, and community contacts—giving local climbing organizations, key retailers, and climbing gyms the tools they need to spread a consistent message that promotes responsible outdoor climbing ethics. Access Fund will work closely with Black Diamond and other leaders in the climbing community (including local climbing organizations, climbing gyms, outdoor retailers, climbing guide services, professional climbing athletes, university outing clubs, and the outdoor industry) to build and distribute education content.