Advocate Spotlight: Kate Hanes

Categories: Advocate Spotlight

Meet the driving force behind Southeastern Climbers Coalition’s (SCC) powerful stewardship program: Kate Hanes. She has led SCC to many trail and stewardship initiatives, including a whopping 56 trail days in 2021. Kate took the lead on SCC’s recent build-out of trails, parking, signage, and more at the newly protected Woodcock Cove, a mega-crag with over a mile of cliff line nestled above the Sequatchie Valley in Tennessee. When she’s not flowing up southeastern sandstone or leading a crew of volunteers, Kate’s onstage performing in local modern dance productions. Before her role with SCC, Kate was on Access Fund’s Conservation Team working with local communities at crags across the country.

5 Questions for Kate Hanes

What’s your favorite cause in climbing advocacy right now?
There are many worthy causes in climbing right now, but I’m partial to stewardship because it’s what I live and breathe, day in and day out. The work of stewarding our climbing areas is endless, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. But working together to restore trails or navigate the aftermath of a tornado is when the community really shines and reminds me why I love the climbing community. I’m inspired by creative ways that other LCOs have navigated the growing stewardship needs at our crags, like Carolina Climbers Coalition’s C4 team and AF’s partnership with the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps.

What does it mean to you to be a climbing advocate?
To me, being a climbing advocate means rallying to preserve climbing—and giving a damn. Rallying as a community is core to climbing advocacy. It can take many forms, from donating to purchase a threatened climbing area to picking up trash when you see it.

What’s your advice to new advocates?
Advocacy doesn’t need to be a solo journey. In fact, I think we have the best chance at success when we act as a community and bring people into the fold. When embarking on a new project, try to connect with people who’ve done the work previously and soak up the history. It could be a former advocate who worked on the project, a climber who has been climbing there for 20 years, or your local climbing organization. More than likely, there are other people in the community who care about your project and can support you in your work.

What surprised/challenged/excited you the most about getting into the advocacy world?
How much work goes on behind the scenes to keep crags open and accessible! I’ve had the privilege of working with so many advocates who have been patiently having conversations with land managers for years before seeing results. Some of the most inspiring advocates are united around the smaller, lesser known crags. All climbing areas are worthy of protection, especially as the community of climbers continues to grow.

Who is another climbing advocate whose work is really inspiring you right now?
I am incredibly inspired by the work of all of our local area reps here in our region. Each of the 40+ areas we help to steward has its own dedicated advocate that helps with the heavy lifting, from boots-on-the-ground stewardship and fundraising to communicating with other climbers, land managers, and neighbors. I’ll never skip an opportunity to give these folks a shout-out! Their dedication is a critical component of our work.

You can see more of Kate's stewardship work on SCC's instagram feed. Learn more about SCC and join one of their trail days by visiting their website.

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