3 March 2022

Celebrating pride & diversity, this month and always.

This month, and always, we’re proud to celebrate those who find joy in the call of adventure. To celebrate Mardi Gras, we're spotlighting ClimbingQTs, and chatting to two members who recently took to rock for the first time in the Blue Mountains through their recently launched program Blue Mountains QTs.

This month, and always, we’re proud to celebrate those who find joy in the call of adventure. 

As we celebrate Mardi Gras, we acknowledge this years’ theme, United We Shine – a rallying call to stand up against hate and inequality, reminding us that when we rise as a collective, our message of love and inclusion is heard louder.

As we work to unite communities, and build on the strength and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community, we’re highlighting ClimbingQTs, and sharing member stories from their recent experiences on rock. 

ClimbingQTs - Building Community On & Off the Rock 

ClimbingQTs is an LGBTQ+ friendly social club and advocacy group based in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia). We are excited to be working with ClimbingQTs to educate our team, and work to enable access and encourage inclusivity in climbing.

Late last year, Blue Mountains QTs entered the scene – a series of outdoor climbing sessions in the Blue Mountains in partnership with Climbing QTs and Blue Mountains Climbing School.

These sessions offer an accessible, fun and exciting challenge of outdoor rock climbing with a one day session in Australia’s world famous climbing destination, the Blue Mountains. The sessions offer an inclusive environment, and mentorship offered from climbers from The North Face team.

We caught up with Emma & April who attended a Blue Mountains QTs event in November last year, alongside team athlete and Olympian climber Tom O’Halloran.

Emma & April joined ClimbingQTs twelve months ago, after searching for LGBTQ+ outdoor and climbing groups online, and have been thrilled with the community it has offered them.

What is your world outside of climbing?

Emma: I work in IT support, currently as a Team Leader of a large team in a highly technical company. Other than that, I like to play computer games, collect Star Wars lego, and ride my sports (motor)bike.

April: Up until last year I had been a full time carer for my Grandmother for 10 years, until she recently passed. I enjoy health and fitness and being outdoors, and just always learning new skills.

How did you first get involved with climbing? 

We were living five minutes away from the Villawood Indoor Climbing Gym, and regularly passed it while driving, often saying “we really should try that out”. Finally, we built up the courage to go in and check it out, about a year and a half ago, and have been there every two or three days since!

How does a group like ClimbingQTs serve the LGBTQ+ community, and what does this mean to you? 

Having a group like the ClimbingQTs is very important, as it provides pathways to friendships and experiences with others in the community which might otherwise be difficult to come across, due to anxiety and fear of discrimination. The meetups and events allow people to connect with others in a safe and judgment-free environment.

What are some barriers to climbing that you see for people in the LGBTQ community, and for non-climbers in general? 

Honestly, for us, aside from the initial hesitation, we have found the climbing community at our local gym, and more broadly, to be very open and welcoming, and overall very positive. We haven’t felt any sense of being othered or excluded.

What has this outdoor climbing workshop in the Blue Mountains opened up for you? 

Everything. It was a great introduction to taking our climbing outdoors and made it seem much more approachable, where we otherwise may not have felt confident enough to take it on. We have since been lead climbing outdoors just the two of us, excitedly buying our own gear and finding crags and walls through the internet.

Are there any particular moments from the workshop that stick out for you?

Emma: Going in with no expectations, and stepping out of our comfort zone, the day as a whole ended up amazing. It was particularly great just touching real rock for the first time after a year of climbing in the gym, and starting to get some understanding of the differences, as well as the more adventurous nature of venturing outdoors.

April: Meeting everybody, and having an experienced and competent guide in Justine, and the incredible vistas that we certainly don’t get at the gym, just made the whole thing really exciting and definitely memorable!

How was it meeting Tom O’Halloran, who had recently competed at the Olympics in climbing? 

It was amazing! We had seen him previously from a distance training at Villawood, and we had excitedly watched all of the climbing in the Olympics. When we arrived and saw him with the group, it was very unexpected, but then climbing with him he seemed like a super down to earth guy, very approachable, and very willing to pass on his knowledge.

How has your climbing journey progressed since the workshop? 

Since the workshop, we have done a lead course with the Blue Mountains Climbing School and been certified for lead climbing at Villawood, opening up another facet of climbing for us. As we mentioned earlier, we have collected more gear and started venturing out to a local crag to further develop our skills and knowledge. We have also been going along to the monthly ClimbingQTs meetups at BlocHaus, where we’ve bumped into others that were at the workshop, as well as got to know others from the group.

What are your goals in climbing this year, or what are you focusing on? 

Emma: Get stronger and more flexible, and continuing to have fun. Looking to push beyond my comfort zone more often, particularly outdoors.

April: Pushing myself to train harder and further my skillset, in both lead climbing and bouldering, always with an eye on progression, and trying to pursue more outdoor adventures!

What do you think the sport of climbing brings into people’s lives who get involved with it? 

As a primarily individual pursuit, it’s amazing how much it makes you feel like part of a close community. Of course, there’s also great physical and mental health benefits, due to the nature of the sport being a constant push for self-improvement.

What do you hope to see more of in the climbing community? 

Our experience with the climbing community has been overwhelmingly positive. If we had to say anything, general inclusivity for all age groups and skill levels, and more adventures bringing people together!

Learn More About ClimbingQTs

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The outdoors is a place where every explorer should feel at home, and everyday we work towards making that easier. We’re thankful to organisations like ClimbingQTs who are at the forefront of this work.

Stay up to do date with their future events here, and follow along on Instagram - @climbingqts.  

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