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The Birth of a Global Climbing Community

From the limestone cliffs of Vietnam to the basalt columns of Ecuador, climbing can be practiced all around the world. In nearly every place where magnificent rock is found, people have tried to get to the top of it. But the similarities end there. The trajectory of climbing’s growth has a distinct story in every corner of the globe. In some places, locals have become climbers and, either through mentorship and gear from outsiders or their own grit and ingenuity, they have taken hold of their climbing journey. In other places, climbing continues to be practiced only by visiting foreigners, leaving locals excluded from the enjoyment and benefit of the sport. These patterns reflect greater systems of inequity throughout society. It is our responsibility as climbers to increase access to resources and opportunity within our sport, and in doing so, model the change we hope to see as ripple effects throughout the greater world.


Climb Like A Woman supports women in India to break barriers through rock climbing. Through GCI’s Gear Distribution Project, CLAW was able to host their first sport climbing festival and further their mission of building a community of women empowered through the outdoors. Photos by Gayatri Juvekar.


The Global Climbing Initiative was born from a vision of a future where climbers everywhere have access to the skills and resources needed to create thriving communities. We identify the barriers that local climbing leaders face, and we build programs to break them down. In doing so, we join climbing communities on a journey toward their vision for the future of climbing, whether a source of sustainable tourism, a pathway to environmental appreciation and protection, or a catalyst for individual empowerment and social change. 


Boquete Rock Climbing School in Panama hosts a kids day each month for children from low-income households to learn rock climbing for free.  Photos by Christian Schriefer.


How do we accomplish this?  GCI distributes climbing gear, awards community grants, produces best practices, and leads educational trainings with climbing organizations in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East. By investing in climbing communities who seldom have access to funding or industry resources, we’ve helped realize the visions of local climbing leaders and increase access to this sport on a global scale.  

Creating this change requires deep collaboration with companies in the outdoor industry. Osprey has become a critical partner in our gear distribution project by supplying us with Transporter Duffels to carry gear. Over the past year, our volunteers have been able to deliver 81 pairs of climbing shoes, 30 helmets, 28 harnesses, 26 ropes, and a massive amount of technical rock and ice climbing gear to communities in Kenya, Thailand, India, Mexico, Malawi, Brazil, Egypt, and Panama.


The Piti Dharr Ice Festival is an annual event furthering ice climbing in the Indian Himalayas. GCI volunteers hand delivered three Osprey transporter bags full of helmets, harnesses, and a dozen ice climbing boots to the Spiti Valley for festival organizers to carry out the event.  Photos by Kiran Kallur.


At GCI, we share the education and resources to make adventures around the globe possible. Through continued collaboration on our gear distribution project, we aim to equip climbing communities around the world with the tools to thrive. Click here(Opens in a new window) to learn more about The Global Climbing Initiative and how you can support the growth of a united and empowered global climbing community.


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