we’re working with one of our favorite local partners: The Salt Lake Area Queer Climbers (also known as SLAQC!) Not only are we spreading the word on the importance of inclusive communities in climbing like the excellent one they’ve created but we’re also sharing their guidance on how to start your own group in your area as well! 

SLAQC creates a supportive space for all queer people to enjoy climbing through weekly meetups both in the gym and at the crag, facilitating access to climbing, working with industry partners to raise visibility, and partnering with gyms to create more accepting and welcoming environments for climbers of all types—including the queer community. Through these efforts, SLAQC empowers queer individuals and creates a community that goes beyond climbing—it’s is a place where queer folks find lasting friendships! 

A group of climbers circled up at an SLAQC event.

We sat down with the Co-Founders  Matty Kastellec, Rue Zheng, and Leandra Hernandez of SLAQC to get the beta. Here’s how they did it: 

Set your mission.

What’s your intention? Set it. Here’s theirs: 

SLAQC creates a supportive space for all queer people to enjoy climbing. We host weekly meetups, raise visibility by collaborating with brands who share our mission, advocate for increased access to climbing with gym partners, and promote queer stories and organizations. Through these efforts, we empower queer individuals, create a more inclusive climbing community, reduce barriers to access, and cultivate collective knowledge. 

SLQAC co-founder Matty Kastellec

Create your values.  

These will be your map, compass, and guidelines as you make decisions for the organization. 

Here are SLAQC’s Values: 

1) Queerly Designed, Queerly Beloved. We believe community is the bedrock of climbing. We help each other grow, share knowledge openly and proactively, and create space for all climbers. Our experiences together keep us grounded and deepen our connections with each other and the lands we climb on.  

2) Non–Toxic Culture. We intentionally build supportive connections that prioritize joy, respect, trust, and safety. Rather than chasing grades, judging gear, gatekeeping, and beta spraying, we model non–toxic culture through mindfulness, consent, and compassion. We refuse a climbing environment that only values individual achievement, sending not only for ourselves, but for the community that supports us. 

3) Redefine Who Climbs We reject traditional definitions and unspoken rules of who can climb. We rewrite the narrative of who climbs to represent the totality of our community: bodies of all races, sizes, genders, sexualities, abilities and means. We break stigmas of what our bodies can or can’t do. We amplify stories within and beyond our organization, so that folks who want to climb have the opportunity to see all aspects of themselves in our sport. 

4) Accountable to the Most Marginalized We seek to center the most marginalized among us - those who face compounding layers of discrimination due to their races or ethnicities, sexualities, gender identities or performance, abilities, size, or socioeconomic status. We hold ourselves accountable to making decisions that center these communities and building programming that intentionally serves these identities. 

Spread the word!  

Check to see if there are similar organizations in your area and start a relationship with your local gym. Jump in to your first meetup knowing that you don’t have to know everything right away - you'll learn the lessons and work out the details as you continue to grow!

Keep showing up. 

Determine your norms (timing, frequency, locations, etc.) and keep to them. Consistency is key. Be dependable and stick with it! 

We’d like to give an enormous thank you to our dear friends at SLAQC for the incredibly impactful work they do in our community. Find out more about how you can join or DONATE to support their organization HERE!

A person climbing at an SLAQC event.