02/18/2020

Advocate Spotlight: Irene Yee

Categories: Perspectives , Community

Our inspiring advocate this month—Irene Yee out of Las Vegas, Nevada. As a professional climbing 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.

© Irene Yee

5 Questions With Irene

What’s your favorite cause in climbing advocacy right now?
Getting underrepresented folks into the outdoors! The more we welcome different communities into the outdoor spaces, the more love we can show to our public lands, the more education can go around, and the more new and different ideas we can have to solve problems.

What does it mean to you to be a climbing advocate?
To be honest, it's still an uncomfortable space for me. This is not how I think of myself. But having people tell you they got involved with their local coalition or simply picked up extra trash on their way out because of the love you showed for your local crag, makes it much more comfortable. That’s worth it.

What’s your advice to new advocates?
Do what you can handle. I constantly feel overwhelmed with the problems facing our world today, so for me, I try to do as much as I can at a local level. That way I can actually see the change in my community. Multiple people doing a small part really adds up quickly, and covers much more ground than you think.

What surprised you the most about getting into the advocacy world?
That people listened and cared about what I had to say. For me, cleaning up graffiti and dog poop, as well as WagBag refills are things that I would do no matter what. It’s important for me to give back to the places that have given so much to me.

It sometimes feels weird spraying about this type of work, but I have found that when you show your caring and respect for a place it absolutely encourages others, and it sparks some really educational and informed conversations.

And if you're going to spray about anything, why not make it something positive like the now naturalized landscape?

Who is another climbing advocate whose work is really inspiring you right now?
As always, the people who inspire me most are those closest to me. They’re not those pushing the limits of climbing, but those who teach me everyday how to be a better advocate. Laur Sabourin (laur_sabourin) may not be the most vocal in the online space, but their willingness to have tough conversations with me, share their insights on panels, and simply just choose to thrive despite unforgiving spaces inspires me everyday.

You can follow Irene’s photography and advocacy on Instagram @ladylockoff and her website ladylockoff.com.

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Climbing Advocate Resources

What does it mean to be a climbing advocate? Lots of different things. Here are a few resources to explore.