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The On-Going Issue of Offensive Route Names Now Has Its Own Task Force

Climb United is a new initiative centered around convening climbers, climbing organizations, and industry brands to transform the culture around inclusivity.

The American Alpine Club (AAC) is proud to announce Climb United, a new initiative centered around convening climbers, climbing organizations, and industry brands to transform the culture around inclusivity. Current partners of the Climb United project include REI, Eddie Bauer, adidas Outdoor, Mammut, The North Face, and Patagonia.

They are excited to launch the program with a draft of Principles and Guidelines for Publishing Climbing Route Names developed by the Route Name Task Force, composed of a group of publishers and climbing community members. The Guiding Principles will serve to establish an agreed-upon philosophy toward publishing climbing route names, while the Guidelines provide an evaluation and management system for addressing discriminatory route names. The AAC will host a public forum on the draft guidelines on April 21 at 6 p.m. MDT to engage the community and encourage questions and feedback. You can also provide feedback on the draft guidelines via this survey.

Participants in the working group include Alpinist Magazine, Climbing Magazine, the Climbing Zine, Gripped Magazine, Mountain Project, Mountaineers Books, Sharp End Publishing, and Wolverine Publishing.

In February of this year, the AAC surveyed climbers and found that over 82% of respondents believe it is important that the climbing community address diversity and inclusion within the sport. Additionally, over 77% of respondents believe it is important to address discriminatory route names to make climbing more welcoming to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, age, range of abilities, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

AAC CEO Mitsu Iwasaki described the importance of the Climb United project, “Our climbing culture, which I have been a part of and contributor to for nearly 30 years, has, without mal-intent, created spaces that have been hurtful and uninviting to many. I am grateful through Climb United, we (brands, publishers, and climbers) have come together with an abundance of humility to engage in difficult and necessary conversations to evolve, elevate, and ensure a vibrant future for climbing.”

The AAC recently hired Climb United Director Cody Kaemmerlen to help guide the project. Kaemmerlen shared his excitement about joining the initiative as the Climb United Director, “I’m honored to serve the climbing community that I care so deeply for and to help all folks find their way to this sport. The crags, mountains, and remote summits continue to bring me a lifetime of memories and relationships. I understand the enormity of the barriers that exist, and I’m excited to push extra hard to help break them down.”

Climbers can also follow along with Climb United’s progress via a timeline of past projects and future goals.

Learn more about Climb United at climbunited.org