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Climbers of Color

Diversifying climbing and mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest

In: Community >

Climbers of Color was founded in 2017 in Seattle, WA. Climbers of Color aims to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the climbing and mountaineering community by developing leaders of color.

To accomplish its mission, Climbers of Color provides supportive mentorship, technical training and access to key resources including gear and scholarships.

We provide educational courses and supportive mentorship to create leaders of color in the climbing industry.

Hello, my name is Mariko Ching (they/them)! I’m one of the co-founders of Climbers of Color. In addition, I also serve as the Strategic Director and a mountaineering instructor.

I’m 5th generation Japanese and Chinese American. My family was part of the wave of Asian immigrants who landed in Hawai’i to work in the plantations. I spent every Summer back in Oahu but I grew up in Western Washington mostly.

My journey to recreating in the outdoors is similar to other BIPOCs I know. My family was not about going outside -- I didn’t grow up going on hikes or learning how to ski. I didn’t camp until I was an adult. Climbing wasn’t on my radar until my aunt, a veteran climber and mountaineer, took me to the climbing gym and then later taught me how to walk on snow and use an ice axe. She pushed me head first down a steep snow slope and I screamed while trying to self arrest. I was totally hooked.

Several years later, after much trial-and-error and YouTube videos, I started outdoor rock climbing and summiting small peaks. There was no BIPOC community at that time, or at least I didn’t know of any. Things changed when I met Don. He had a huge vision - to change the face of mountaineering in the PNW. Together, with Nicco Minutoli and Christopher Chalaka, we worked to make that dream a reality.

More about me… I’m non-binary. As much as I love advocating for racial diversity I’m really hoping that there will be a push to get more LGBTQIA+ folx out there. If you’re queer and reading this, please join us. We need you. I’m also very passionate about wilderness medicine and have big plans to one day teach a WFA and WFR class that is more inclusive that what is currently available. Imagine learning how to evaluate individuals with different skin colors, using gender-appropriate language when treating patients or learning the basic principles of trauma-informed care.


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