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Climbers Raising Awareness of Racism by Sending Hard Routes

“Viewers will receive our video after they take action on behalf of whatever anti-discrimination movement they choose”

Climbers in B.C. have come up with a clever way to raise awareness of the social issues taking place across Canada and the U.S.A. Top Canadian climber Tosh Sherkat sent us some information about the project.

The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor by police in the U.S.A. have resulted in historic protests around the world against police brutality.

“Inclusive representation of BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of colour) communities in the outdoors has also received a much-needed spotlight,” said Sherkat. “Rock climbing is a predominantly white sport, and is seeing more engagement on this subject through established organizations such as Brown Girls Climb, The Climber’s Pledge, Color the Crag, and Indigenous Womxn Climb.”

Sherkat, his sister Tula (also a top comp climber), and Rossland-born filmmaker Liam Barnes have created a 10 minute film that documents several historic bouldering first ascents in the West Kootenays. However, they aren’t just sharing it with everyone.

“We are creating content about local climbing, but we don’t want to take the spotlight off of more important causes”, says Sherkat. “Viewers will receive our video after they take action on behalf of whatever anti-discrimination movement they choose.”

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The process is simple and honour-based:
1. Select a cause against violence and discrimination
2. Make a contribution (donation, petition, volunteer, etc.)
3. Email or text the name of the cause you have supported to boulderingaction at gmail.com and you will automatically receive a link to the video which is hidden on Youtube, no questions asked.

Sherkat says: “One-time gestures are a step in the direction, but as Lanisha Lee Blount points out in her Anti-Racism Resources Article for Climbing Magazine, ‘concern is that people believe a one-time donation will suffice. If this is where allyship begins and ends, diversity will only exist on our social media feeds.'”

Barnes adds: “Through this project, we hope to learn more about what people out there are supporting, so that we can better understand our next steps as allies and climbers.”

If you haven’t heard about The Climber’s Pledge, visit here. They are raising funds to support the The Brown Ascenders, a nonprofit organization created for and by climbers of colour.

Editor’s note: Like many of you, all of us at Gripped have come to recognize that climbing is not immune to the systemic racism that is present in every sphere of life. It is time we do our part and address our own role in fighting racism and bigotry wherever it is found. We pledge to work with the rest of the community to make climbing more inclusive, and to represent our sport in its fullness and diversity. Gripped is committed to improving our coverage of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, LGBTQ and other historically marginalized voices in the climbing community. We encourage and welcome suggestions of story ideas of BIPOC and LGBTQ voices and experiences, from experiences of racism in the world of climbing to overlooked stories that should be celebrated. If you would like to share your ideas or feedback, please contact the Editor via brandon at gripped.com.