One of the country’s premier inclusive climbing organizations is enhancing its mission to support more athletes as the sport continues to grow in popularity nationwide.
Flash Foxy is renowned as the first climbing festival for women, an annual event founded by rock climber Shelma Jun in 2014.
After a COVID-caused hiatus, the organization recently updated its mission to serve not only serve cisgender women but also genderqueer climbers. That expansion comes along with the company’s first ongoing outdoor climbing education courses.
Jun said, “It’s important to provide intentional opportunities and spaces for marginalized climbers from communities that have been historically excluded … [that don’t] ask folks to conform to the existing culture in order to progress personally or professionally … [and] to help to expand the culture of the climbing community to be one that everyone feels like they can be their full selves in.”
The school-of-rock lineup includes intro to bouldering, top-roping, sport climbing, and trad climbing. Across the country, the in-person classes will serve marginalized gender identities with an emphasis on inclusivity, safety, and sustainable recreation.
Flash Foxy Education Courses: Unique, Top-Notch Guidance
A handful of organizations nationwide provide a safe communal space for climbers with shared life experiences and intersections of identity. These include Queer Climbing Collective for LGBTQIA2S+ climbers in Milwaukee and Seattle Queer Climbers, which connects LGBTQ climbers in the Pacific Northwest.
While those organizations serve an important need and connect their local community members, Flash Foxy offers a formal, standardized curriculum to educate climbers across the nation.
To maintain high quality and safety, at least one American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA)-certified instructor will be present at each educational course (although no federal or state law requires instructors to hold a credential or be trained).
Flash Foxy also created a strategic training process for its guides, so that each instructor follows the same protocol. That way, students can learn the same skills per course, regardless of the teacher. Broadly, that’s a step that guide companies miss in course development.
In addition to field courses, Flash Foxy launched several online learning modules. The virtual courses (approximately $10, 2 hours each) include Trip Planning, Landscape and Resource Stewardship, and Community Engagement and Action.
Gender Inclusivity: How to Get Involved
Recreationists can adopt awareness and communication techniques to help create a more inclusive climbing culture. “Create opportunities for folks to join and learn in the ways that make sense for them. As you teach or learn, listen well,” Jun said.
“At local crags, don’t assume folks who are not as common in climbing are beginners or don’t know what they’re doing. If you feel like you need to offer safety advice, try to do it in a polite and generous manner, rather than with a condescending tone or air of expertise.”
To fulfill its mission of inclusivity, Flash Foxy offers a scholarship fund for interested students to prevent a barrier to access and is hiring staff with a spectrum of lived experiences. The organization’s marketing materials represent those populations, and its community outreach is intentional to those traditionally excluded demographics.
Flash Foxy: Upcoming Course Schedule
On deck, the first round of scheduled courses will take place in Colorado, New York, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Utah through November. Check out the lineup of available courses below.
- Location: Looking Glass Rock, N.C.
- Date: Oct. 2-3
- Cost: $350
- Location: North Conway, N.H.
- Date: Oct. 23-24
- Cost: $350
- Location: Moab & Indian Creek, Utah
- Date: Nov. 6-7
- Cost: $350
Be sure to sign up for the Flash Foxy newsletter (at the bottom of the organization’s homepage) for updates on more upcoming courses.