12/18/2020

12 of the Most Inspiring Climbing Advocates of 2020

The climbing advocacy movement is stronger than ever, with inspiring work happening every day, in every corner of the country. Here are some of our favorite climbing advocate stories from 2020.

Irene Yee

As a professional photographer, Irene focuses her incredible talents on showcasing women, people of color, and the average climber. Her beautiful imagery has earned her a substantial social media following, and she consistently uses her influencer status to promote inclusivity in the climbing industry and share responsible outdoor ethics with her fellow climbers. Irene is a tireless crusader for responsible disposal of human and dog waste at her home crag of Red Rock Canyon in Nevada, and it’s not uncommon to see her out at the crag, picking up poop or handing out wag bags. Learn more about Irene's story and her thoughts on what it means to be a climbing advocate.

Daniel Dunn

A veteran of the Front Range Climbing Stewards trail crew, Daniel worked to improve climbing access across the Colorado front range and Utah before joining the Access Fund staff. As the Member and Office Coordinator, Daniel provided essential support to Access Fund’s local and regional staff, as well as our growing community of members. Daniel also launched our first-ever app to support our Climb the Hill event in Washington, DC. Daniel accepted a new position as Stewardship Manager with the Boulder Climbing Community, and we’re thrilled to see his continued commitment to climbing advocacy.

Mike Reardon

Mike is one of the rare individuals lucky enough to call climbing advocacy his profession. As Executive Director of the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC), Mike has helped lead local advocates to open five new climbing areas across the region, including Eagle Rock, Little Bearwallow Falls, Buckeye Knob, and Melrose Mountain in North Carolina, as well as Pumpkintown in South Carolina. He has also forged new partnerships with land managers, allowing local volunteers to log 4,000 hours of crag stewardship work, replace 531 bad bolts, clean over 100 graffiti sites, and help create a peregrine falcon monitoring program for various cliffs throughout the Carolinas...all in the last year. Mike also works alongside CCC’s board of directors to manage Laurel Knob, Rumbling Bald, Buckeye Knob, and Hidden Valley—all owned and managed by CCC. Learn more about Mike's work and his advice to new advocates.

Kelso Cook

Kelso is an all-star local climbing advocate who interns with Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC), focused on membership and outreach. While working toward his MBA in the outdoor industry at Western University, he still finds time to lead in SCC’s personal outreach by tabling at events, pint nights, gyms, and youth climbing comps, as well as fulfilling membership orders. Kelso has been a key player at signature SCC fundraising events, including the annual Float the Boat in Atlanta and Hospital Boulder’s Witness the Sickness. He also helped Access Fund and SCC throw the inaugural Wauhatchie BoulderFest to celebrate the opening of a new bouldering area in downtown Chattanooga. Learn more about Kelso's work and his thoughts on advocacy.

Angela Lee

President of Colorado’s San Luis Valley Climbers Alliance (SLVCA), Angela is a dedicated climbing advocate, as well as an organic farmer and attorney. Alongside her partner, Wes O’ Rourke, Angela founded the climbers alliance last year, recognizing the need for a climbing community hub and rallying point for access, stewardship, and youth education. The group has already helped to organize rebolting events—replacing more than 100 bolts so far—and is forging relationships with local land managers, both public and private, to preserve access, protect peregrine falcons, and facilitate trail and stewardship work at the valley’s many climbing areas. Angela brings a strong community-building focus to SLVCA, hosting movie nights, offering youth programming that focuses on minority kids, and organizing women’s and gender nonconforming climbing events. She is committed to ensuring climbers of all backgrounds are welcome, and she recently launched a custom SLVCA decal to raise money for NAACP’s legal defense fund. Learn more about Angela and what excites her about climbing advocacy.

Dane Scott

A lifelong climber, Dane has been advocating for the climbing community at Bitterroot National Forest for nearly a decade. As a founder of the Western Montana Climbers Coalition, he has maintained a consistent, balanced voice with Bitterroot National Forest officials, even while under long-standing pressure from opposition. As the director of the Mansfield Ethics and Public Affairs Program at the University of Montana and associate professor of ethics in the College of Forestry and Conservation, Dane brings a compelling perspective to the ethics of climbing and fixed anchors. Access Fund’s policy team has been lucky to work with Dane on climbing management strategy and campaigns, such as the successful campaign to lift a fixed anchor prohibition in Bitterroot National Forest. Learn more about Dane's advocacy journey.

Lor Sabourin

Lor is a climbing instructor with The Warrior’s Way and teaches clinics and works one-to-one with climbers of all levels. They are also an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor and Assistant Rock Guide, certified as a Wilderness First Responder and Rope Rescue Technician. Lor is also a passionate advocate in creating space for LGBTQIA+ folks to use climbing as a way to have a better dialog with their bodies, mentalities, and relationships. By being open with their own narratives, we get to see how social and physical barriers in the outdoors are met, challenged, and overcome. The best advocates are not only the folks who do good for the community, but also do good for themselves. Lor teaches us that we are never static in this world, and that the more we can deeply understand ourselves, the better we’re able to help and support others in creating a sense of belonging in our community. Learn more about Lor and their advice to fellow advocates.

Taimur Ahmad

Taimur is a committed climber and emerging leader in the field of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) in the recreation world. We’re also lucky to call him a member of the Access Fund team, where he serves as California Policy Assistant and JEDI Fellow. He graduated from Princeton University, then worked for the Wilderness Society as a Recreation and Forest Policy Fellow where he frequently collaborated with (and dazzled) the Access Fund policy team. In addition to his policy work, Taimur has helped Access Fund, USA Climbing, and numerous local climbing organizations around the country follow through on their commitment to make climbing, advocacy, and stewardship more inclusive now and in the years to come. He also volunteers for his local search and rescue unit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Bishop, California. Learn more about Taimur's advocacy journey.

Omaze

Omaze raises money for charity by offering incredible experiences—like the chance to win a Mercedes Sprinter with custom build-out while supporting Access Fund at the same time. Using its unique fundraising platform and digital outreach campaigns, Omaze has been supporting Access Fund’s work for the last two years. The organization has reached more than 100,000 people through these unique campaigns, raising awareness of our mission to protect America’s climbing and raising a significant amount of money to support the cause.

Raud Kashef

Raud stepped into the climbing advocacy world after getting involved in local Adopt a Crag trail days and rebolting events. He recently took over leadership of the Iowa Climbers Coalition (ICC) and has already partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers to open bouldering at Coralville. He is also currently exploring potential access to Iowa’s hidden trove of limestone (some call it the Frankenjura of the Midwest). Raud has a deep passion for Iowa climbing, and he is working to expand climbing opportunities in the area; bring more people into the fold; and build a responsible, ethical climbing community. Dancer, climber, teacher, and community volunteer, Raud is known for always smiling and bringing a deep well of motivation to climbing and advocacy. He also has the quirky but effective habit of wrestling his climbing partner to warm up—so if you rope up with him, watch out! Learn more about Raud and his thoughts on climbing advocacy.

Monserrat Alvarez Matehuala

Monserrat is the Membership and Inclusion Coordinator for the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). Since starting the position in 2018, members of the guiding community have noted amazing policy changes that have created a more welcoming guiding culture. “I’ve personally felt more comfortable and open in my profession, and I know that her work has opened up the narrative of who can be a leader in the climbing community,” says AMGA Guide Lor Sabourin. Monserrat is also the Outdoor Program Director for Brown Girls Climb (BGC), where she works to create inclusive opportunities for underrepresented communities to climb and explore outdoors. "Many people don’t realize how much energy it takes to do this work. Monserrat constantly challenges and educates herself to improve how she supports others around her. These personal standards are part of what makes her such a force," says BGC Founder and CEO Bethany Lebewitz. Learn more about Monserrat's work and her advice to new advocates.

Rob Schorr

Rob is a climber and conservation biologist at Colorado State University, as well as the director of Climbers for Bat Conservation. His graduate studies at University of Georgia allowed him to study bat biology and fall in love with these mysterious nocturnal fliers. North American bat populations are declining at an alarming rate, and Rob works with climbers, biologists, and land managers to identify and monitor bat roosting habitat and populations. He recently presented at the Climb the Hill Land Manager Summit to raise awareness of how climbers can help with bat conservation.

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