Advocate Spotlight: Veronica Baker

Categories: Advocate Spotlight

As executive director of The Climbing Initiative, Veronica Baker works to support climbing communities worldwide. She and her team research and promote the economic, social, and environmental benefits of our sport and help organizations tap into climbing as a force for positive change. Veronica and her team are currently leading an initiative to establish international best practices for the development of climbing areas and communities. She believes that rock climbing can empower individuals, create new sources of livelihood, and foster the development of a more sustainable and equitable world.

Veronica climbing in Boulder Canyon, Colorado. Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute territories. © Christian O’Rourke

Veronica helped shape and plan Access Fund’s first international Climbing Advocacy Conference last fall by securing international presenters, facilitating panel discussions, and promoting the gathering around the world. You can read about the conference here and watch any of the recordings by registering on the platform.

5 Questions for Veronica

What’s your favorite cause in climbing advocacy right now?
I’m passionate about uniting our global community and shining the spotlight on people who are doing incredible work in our sport. U.S. and European climbers tend to dominate the global narrative, but there are so many important stories to be told, like Escalando Fronteras supporting at-risk youth in Mexico, Climb Like a Woman challenging social norms by connecting women to the outdoors in India, and Climb Malawi creating a gym and community center where people can find resources to improve their lives. Every climbing brand and media outlet has the choice of whom to feature in the content they create. I want to see more attention given to underrepresented climbers around the world making our community better.

What does it mean to you to be a climbing advocate?
Climbing advocacy is the process of using the skills, privilege, and resources you have to bring attention to the things that matter to you and promote a better path forward. For me and the rest of The Climbing Initiative team, that means conducting research on the impact and growth of our sport, sharing the stories of climbers making a difference in their community, and advising other organizations on what they need to grow and succeed.

What’s your advice to new advocates?
Find the skills and interests you uniquely bring to the table, and figure out how to apply them to the climbing community in a meaningful way. Whether it’s participating in rebolting and trail work with your local climbing organization, asking your gyms for more inclusive programming, or setting up a fundraiser for something that matters—everyone can follow their own vision of what it means to be an advocate.

What surprised you the most about getting into the advocacy world?
How small and interconnected our community is. Thanks to social media, we can connect with climbers and climbing organizations anywhere in the world. That’s great news for advocates, because it means a potential collaborator or supporter is just a click away! Go out and follow international climbing nonprofits, associations, and climbers. I guarantee it will make your feed more interesting and can lead to some fantastic connections.

Who is another climbing advocate whose work is really inspiring you right now?
Liz Ndindi of Climbing Life Kenya. Her work to create awareness and access of our sport among Kenyans is inspirational. I especially love the magazines she’s created, giving an in-depth look at her climbing community—everyone should check them out!

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