Bethany Lebewitz and Genevive Walker practicing AMGA Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) Skills. Red Rock, NV. ©Irene Yee

Foundational to Chicks’ ethos and mission is gender equality in the outdoors, specifically in climbing and skiing. We stand for human rights and oppose violence and systemic racism. We do our best to be an ally to women who wish to improve their climbing skills.

A few years ago, in partnership with the AMGA, The American Alpine Club, Flash Foxy, and Brown Girls Climb (BGC)*, I taught an all women’s Single Pitch Instructor Course to a group composed almost exclusively to women of color.

This pilot program aimed to help bring diversity to climbing instructors by teaching women of color the skills they need to become certified Single Pitch Instructors.

The first course was a huge milestone: in addition to being an all-female course, it was the first time an all-female instructor team had been assembled to teach. Along with my co-instructors and fellow Chicks Guide, Tracy Martin, and Erica Engle, we spent long days in the field teaching the curriculum building technical skills, answering questions, sharing laughs, wiping away tears, and passing on our experience and knowledge to a new generation of climbing instructors.

Women of color in leadership roles will serve as role models for generations yet to come. It’s a bit of a ripple effect. If black and brown girls see women in these leadership roles, it will have a huge impact on them and maybe even inspire them to become a climbing guide one day. Climbing is an excellent vehicle for affirming the message that you can do hard things, you are strong, independent, and confident. 

Since that first course, we’ve held a total of three courses and one assessment. As a result, we’ve added four women of color to the ranks of Certified Single Pitch Instructors. Even though this is only a small step towards bringing diversity into outdoor spaces, it’s a step in the right direction. But there is so much more work to be done and we need your help.

How can you help out? Be an ally in the Black Lives Movement.

Join us in the common goal of bringing diversity to our world. There are many levels of engagement and BGC has put together a great resource guide on how you can be an ally in the Black Lives Matter movement. Visit the Ally Resource Guide on the BGC website. You can choose one that works for you:

  • Register to Vote
  • Make a Donation
  • Sign a Petition
  • Contact Representatives and Officials
  • Listen, Watch or Read Anti-Racism Resources

*Brown Girls Climb is a Women of Color owned and operated company with the mission to promote and increase the visibility of diversity in climbing by establishing a community of climbers of color, encouraging leadership opportunities for self-identified women climbers of color, and by creating inclusive opportunities to climb and explore for underrepresented communities.