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She Moves Mountains exists to empower and educate women (cis, trans) and gender minorities through technical climbing clinics and community events.
In the guiding industry, only 15% of working guides are women. Of that 15% only a small portion are Women of Color or from the LGBTQ+ community.
Guiding as a career is full of hurdles; a large financial and time commitment, as well as the experience and skill to qualify for rigorous training programs. We established the SMM mentorship program to address, and counter, this disparity in our industry.
The program aims to provide an opportunity to explore what it means to be a guide in a supportive and encouraging environment. To create a space where you can shadow current instructors while having the opportunity to ask questions about the realities of becoming and being a guide. It is open to women (trans, cis) and non-binary climbers who feel comfortable in a space that centers women.
Participants will have the opportunity to shadow 4-8 clinics as assistants which may include setting up top-ropes, cleaning routes, monitoring belays, coiling ropes and helping with demonstrations.
We believe strong mentorship relationships and representation within the climbing community are invaluable, and we see our relationship with mentees as a partnership. In addition to support and guidance, SMM will offer 2-3 free workshops for participants to build necessary skills for tackling guiding certifications.
At the end of the season, we will select two mentees to receive full scholarship for an AMGA SPI Course and Exam, one of whom will be a woman of color.
There are ten spots for new applicants for the 2023 season. If you are interested in becoming a guide or instructor but are unsure about the initial financial investment, this is a great opportunity for you!
You must have availability to attend mentee training March 11th at Smith Rock State Park OR arrange an alternative training with Katie.
Basic requirements are weekend availability (2-6) at Smith Rock State Park (OR) or Mount Erie (WA) from March to November, including a day of training at the beginning of the season. Ideally, candidates will feel comfortable leading sport at the 5.9 grade and above and have been introduced to the basics of traditional climbing. Most importantly, we want to use our resources and platform to help diversify the climbing community and reach underrepresented and marginalized groups, so if this mission speaks to you, we want to hear more!
The application deadline is January 31st and participants will be notified by February 15th.
Cathy is a Bay Area native who was lucky enough to discover climbing in college. Since then she dove headfirst into the outdoor universe, and ended up teaching a variety of courses ranging from canoe camping, to a multi-pitch climbing course in Red Rocks. Growing up Asian American, Cathy was never exposed to the outdoors like many of her adventure partners, and is forever grateful for the opportunities that have given her the valuable skills she has today.
Cathy Participated in the Mentorship program in 2021, was accepted into the AMGA Women's Rock Guide Course in the fall, and has now worked a few events with us at SMM!
"I truly believe that recreation in the outdoors is for everyone, and that climbing is a wonderful gateway to it. Nowadays, I'm based in the Bay Area and spend most of my time climbing and skiing in the lovely Sierras."
The SMM mentorship helped me heal my relationship with climbing. Around 2016 I became discouraged and uncomfortable at the level of gatekeeping and elitism, especially in leadership roles. I personally experienced many encounters fuled by xenophobia and misogny that I could not simply ignore and I wasn’t sure if climbing was something I wanted to be part of.
This program became one of the few spaces that I felt like I could show up as my authentic self and heal my personal relationship with a sport that had given me so much. The approach that SMM promotes is one that values the mentor/mentee relationship-not as a hierarchical structure but a reciprocal one. In this space I gained valuable insight about what guiding would like for me personally and if it was a manageable goal- financially and emotionally. More importantly, this experience reminded me of the confidence I once had with my skills and experience in rock climbing. I was able to come out of the mentorship owning my leadership skills and breaking ties with the imposter syndrome that so many of us deal with. I will be pursuing my SPI certification this year and gaining experience mentoring others as a certified SPI. The SMM mentorship allowed me to grow as a climber because the environment they create promotes a positive learning experience. If you want to surround yourself with like-minded individuals that share a common goal of diversifying a sport that has historically excluded many, this is the space for you. In my opinion, one of SMM’s strongest traits is owning their imperfections. They are less concerned with being perfect, and more concerned with taking feedback constructively and catering to your individual needs as a mentee. I met so many awesome humans that have become life long friends. I am looking forward to supporting each other in our individual pursuits of guiding and leadership.
Marayah spent the 2021 season shadowing more clinics and events than any other mentee! Their hard work paid off, and they became SPI Certified this fall.
They have a clear drive and dedication to the sport, as well as instructing. Marayah's assistance was invaluable during our 2021 season and we're so excited to see what the future has in store!
“This is exactly the type of program I’ve wanted to invest in and grow from. Climbing has been transformative to finding deep rest in my identity and has positively influenced how I understand my connection to the earth and my community. Ultimately, I want to guide with special focus on breaking down barriers unique to underrepresented groups; my goal is to inspire others to push forward and commit to chasing dreams without regard to any odds that seem stacked against them.”
“It started with a free clinic jointly hosted by She Moves Mountains + PDX Climbers of Color that was filled by women of color that want to be outside. They understood my fears, my background, my goals without any explanation, because I was climbing in a group of similar peers - a first in my life. All these women crushing their goals in and out of climbing while I was only starting to find the relief needed to focus on just climbing. The relief washed over me, and one by one their magic shifted my outlook on the outdoors. I would lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive about applying to the mentorship program with She Moves Mountains last year. Am I good enough? Am I strong enough? Do I know enough about climbing? But after a year as a mentee, I’m happy those thoughts did not hold me back. We all start somewhere, and mentorship is about growing.
She Moves Mountains fosters an environment where I am valued for what I bring to the table, and not what I lack. They see me, nourish my spirit and gently encourage me to try again. Climbing is a tool, and in the right hands it can bring a whole community together. Clinic after clinic, women were pushing themselves emotionally and physically - inspiring me, teaching me. Through their fear, learning, and ambitions - I felt my own confidence, leadership, and ability growing. If you are on the fence, I want to gently encourage you to go for it. It might very well change your life like it has mine.”
Unceded Duwamish lands in so-called Seattle, WA
Photo credit: Caitlin McNulty
Mari is a queer, trans, and nonbinary climber who stumbled into rock climbing four years ago, and they couldn't be more grateful for the gift of climbing. Through the encouragement and community built in their 2021 mentorship experiences, they were able to pass their first AMGA exam and they're now a certified single pitch instructor. The confidence, skills, and experience built in the SMM mentorship program has also enabled them to get their first professional guiding jobs at the inaugural All in Ice Fest and also Flash Foxy Climbing Festival. They look forward to building community and giving back through climbing education, programming, and events for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community this year.
Mari is very grateful for the skills learned from mentors and mentees and the community built with other mentees through this program. When they aren’t climbing, skiing, or otherwise enjoying the mountains, they’re passionate about making the world more inclusive through accessibility design. "When you invest in us, we invest in others." -Humaira Falkenberg