The climbing community is difficult to describe. I would say it is undefinable because there is such a wide range of people who climb, who have incredible stories. You see, climbers do not fit one niche of people, they are bonded by the sheer obsession of hauling themselves up rocks, and accomplishing goals that are seemingly impossible by the untrained eye. The goal of every climber is obviously to get to the top, but in order to get to the top someone has to take care of the rocks and keep climbing areas accessible.
The Southeastern Climbers Coalition is keeping the crags of the South East in tip-top shape. Based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving climbing areas in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Arkansas. The SCC’s goal is to preserve access on private and public lands, and to keep these areas open to climbing.
Not only is the Southeastern Climbers Coalition fantastic at keeping the climbing areas accessible, they also excel at keeping our climbing community undefinable and inclusive. Every year, the SCC hosts a climbing competition called Float the Boat to raise money to help support the organization. The goal of this year’s month-long comp is for climbers to complete as many problems as possible at the Boat Rock Preserve in Atlanta, Georgia. Whoever has the highest points from the top ten hardest climbs in each category wins. The SCC wanted to give everybody an equal opportunity to participate, so they created the Equitable Access Scholarship, which supported underrepresented climbers and their participation in the Float the Boat competition.
Along with other Equitable Access Scholarship sponsors, Gnarly Nutrition helped contribute toward a total of $1,200, which covered 6 climber’s registration, a stipend to cover transportation and equipment expenses, and mentors to facilitate the climbing experience.
Scroll Down to read up on the scholarship recipients and their climbing experience.
Sara Flowers - @wild_flow3rs
Sara began climbing in the Fall of 2019 and was immediately hooked! For her, the draw was the sense of accomplishment in completing a really mentally challenging project. She believes climbing can give people a sense of empowerment, and wants to find ways to share this experience with everyone – especially minority women.
Kendall Martin - @thefallingclimber
Kendall is a Chattanooga rock climber and founder of WeClimb, a local non-profit whose mission is to use rock climbing as a tool to help people become better versions of themselves and increase diversity in the climbing world.
Ruth Hudson - @eryearnhudson
Eryearn Hudson (goes by Ruth) loves climbing, and the community around it. Rock climbing has given her so much, and she hopes to do the same by giving back to the best of her abilities.
Domanique Rahman & Hector Rodriguez - @domaniquerahman
Domanique and Hector are interns at Lookout Mountain Conservancy: a non-profit that works to protect Lookout Mountain’s scenic, historic, and ecological resources. Interns work on conservation, advocacy, education, trail maintenance – including maintaining access to over two dozen boulders on the property! Both have become experts at building and maintaining the landing zones for boulders, but now they’re looking to complete the circle by mastering the art of climbing them! To learn more about Lookout Mountains unique internship program with The Howard School and their impact, go here.
Cadmiel - @cadmiel_velazquez
Cadmiel was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Georgia when he was 6. He has had the great opportunity to study at Kennesaw State and fell in love with climbing there.
other groups contributed, too!
With the remaining funds, the SCC equitable access committee chose 4 local non-profit organizations working to support diversity in climbing in our region. Each organization received a $100 donation to further their work in providing welcoming spaces, mentorship, or climbing opportunities for BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and women in climbing.
WeClimb (Chattanooga, TN)
The mission of WeClimb is to use rock climbing as a tool to help people become better versions of themselves and increase diversity in the climbing world. WeClimb programs include: establishing youth climbing teams at schools in Hamilton County, mentorship for underrepresented youth, and community events and workshops. Funds will be used for equipment, travel, and day passes for youth in the mentorship program.
Outdoor Afro (Birmingham Chapter)
Outdoor Afro has become the nation’s leading, cutting edge network that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. They are a national non-profit organization with leadership networks around the country. With chapters in 42 cities around the country, they connect thousands of people to nature experiences, and are changing the face of conservation. Funds will be used to help with equipment rental, transportation and guiding for an outdoor climbing trip.
Unharnessed Pride (Atlanta, GA)
Unharnessed Pride is a group centered on diversity and promoting the growth of LGBT+ climbing community in Atlanta. We meet on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays from 7pm-9pm at the Overlook Bouldering and Fitness. This group is for all skill levels from a person who has never climbed before to people who have been climbing for years. We hope to host outdoor trips as well as other fun outings. Funds will be used to form a partnership for a meet up and mentorship program with Lost and Found Youth, an organization that helps rehabilitate homeless LGBT youth in Atlanta.
Ladies Climbing Coalition (Atlanta Chapter)
LCC is a community for all women and non-binary folks who are comfortbale in spances that center the experience of women. They host meetups in gyms and crags in the US and abroad, providing a safe and inviting space to connect with others and enjoy climbing. Funds will be used to subsidize a trip or provide a scholarship for a Georgia resident.