September Updates [from our newsletter]

What’s happening this fall?

Upcoming Alpenglow Events!










Squamish Women’s Climbing Festival Recap

Huge thanks to Treeline Women’s Outdoor Community for hosting us at the 2018 Climbing Festival in Squamish, BC, Canada! The festival was a sweet, intimate, and super fun gathering of folks in a stunning setting with clinics, raffles, yoga, climbing, and camping. We loved meeting everyone at the vendor fair and participating in the Panel Discussion. We also were thrilled to have Alpenglow Collective Ambassadors from Portland, Seattle, and Squamish- all in one place!

No Man’s Land

We had such a blast at the No Man’s Land Film Festival – who hosted their annual Flagship Festival on September 13-16th in Carbondale, CO – and had co-founder Emily as a panel speaker! This kickass festival showcased adventure films featuring women front and center, and had days jam-packed with panels, activist workshops, presentations from experts in their fields, not to mention climbing, biking, running, packrafting and yoga outings during the day. We headed out to climb at Thomson Creek with a great group, then showed up for the Entrepreneur Panel just in time for Emily to speak – and aptly covered in chalk and dirt. We made new friends, caught up with old ones, and were blown away by the care and dedication that the filmmakers and the festival organizers put into making this event happen. Be sure to keep an eye out – NMLFF hosts events all across the country and may be coming to a city near you!

As NMLFF puts it- “This is where we gather the hearts, bodies and minds that make No Man’s Land, No Man’s Land.”


Portland Boulder Rally – October 6th

We are thrilled to announce that we’ve been selected as a nonprofit partner with this year’s Portland Boulder Rally! This awesome comp is hosted by Next Adventure and The Circuit Gym on October 6th at The Circuit’s 19,000 square foot gym in Tigard, Oregon. It is the largest single-day bouldering comp in the nation but ALSO voted the most beginner-friendly by Outdoor Magazine so don’t be afraid to test out your mettle! It’s also just a blast to attend- spectators don’t have to climb to rally! The Boulder Rally attracts pro climbers from around the country, as well as food carts, a beer garden, giveaways & prizes, and a vendor village. We are also excited to have Wild Diversity and PDX Climbers of Color as our fellow nonprofit partners for the event! The Portland Boulder Rally will have global coverage via a 3-hour HD live stream webcast beginning at 7pm PST – this will definitely be an event you won’t want to miss 💪

CRUX Women’s + LGBTQ Bouldering Event

CRUX, NYC’s LGBTQ climbing nonprofit is hosting a bouldering event specific to women and members of the LGBTQ community at The Cliffs at DUMBO in NYC on September 29! CRUX is the largest LGBTQ climbing group in New York, and their mission is to expand access to climbing and outdoor recreation for all LGBTQ communities. Find more information about this organization and event on our Events calendar or their website.

Heads up – we have a Facebook Group
This is an easy and quick way to post about gym climbing, training, trips, gear, etc. But don’t forget to make an Alpenglow Collective profile on our website for a more in-depth way to connect with other climbers based on your interests, location, and goals!


For the Love of Climbing: The Podcast

Photo By Irene Yee | @ladylockoff

Have you heard of Kathy Karlo? Of course you have. She’s the founder of For the Love of Climbing, an awesome and inspiring climbing blog that explores the ideals behind why we climb- “the love of it, the heartbreak, the failures, sends, and everything in between.” Kathy is a writer, an organizer for the No Man’s Land Film Festival, a badass climber, and now – a podcaster! She’s been putting all her efforts into creating a thoughtful dialogue about what fuels us, what we learn from climbing, and how to embrace discomfort. In her words:

“This is not a climbing podcast. Well, sorta. This is a funny/sad/somewhat uncomfortable podcast about choosing vulnerability, talking about our pain, our most awkward moments, and how we are all really just shining examples of this messy human existence.”

Photo by Tim Foote

Check out “For the Love of Climbing: The Podcast,” leave a review, and share with your community!

Closing the Gender Gap: What Climbing Can Learn from the Tech Industry

Featured Post by Eva Kalea
Eva is the Director of Culture + Creative Strategy at The Cliffs LIC and the founder of Green Action Force
You can find Eva on Instagram at @eekamonkey


At the CWA Summit this year, I kept hearing one recurring question: how can we hire and retain more women, particularly in management and routesetting?

This is something I’ve looked into extensively and what I found is that the tech industry has learned some hard lessons on the importance of gender parity and how to start working towards it.

I’ve collected some of the most compelling lessons here to share with others in the climbing industry. Let’s work together to create a truly inclusive and diverse climbing gym culture — one that reflects the communities we serve.

Keep in mind that while I focus here on gender equality, the same principles also apply for equality across all identity markers, including race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

Why hiring women should be a priority

A significant percentage of the climbers in our facilities are women. We need staff at all levels — including managers and routesetters who understand women as customers, how we climb, and how to set routes that are fun for us.

Lessons from the AI field:

“If we don’t get women and people of color at the table …we will bias systems. Trying to reverse that a decade or two from now will be so much more difficult, if not close to impossible. This is the time to get women and diverse voices in so that we build it properly, right? And it can be great. It’s going to be ubiquitous. It’s going to be awesome. But we have to have people at the table.” — Fei-Fei Li, Chief Scientist of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at Google

Research from the Kellogg School of Management and McKinsey Global Institute suggests that diverse teams perform better, make better decisions, and are more profitable.

Women are outpacing men when it comes to earning bachelors and graduate degrees. Your company’s ability to attract and retain top talent will be predicated on being an appealing and friendly place for women to work.

Surveys from the Pew Research Center suggest that women in male-dominated companies face more gender-based discrimination and more difficulties in advancing their careers than at gender-balanced companies.

How to hire + retain more women

Make gender equality a core value and set concrete goals with measurable impacts. Stating that you value diversity is not enough — make sure you’re actively working towards it. And remember that this isn’t a one-off project: revisit the issue at predetermined intervals to make sure you’re making progress towards your goals.

Don’t lower your standards

“Lowering standards is counter-productive — the idea that “it’s hard to hire women engineers therefore we won’t hold them to such a high standard” is noxious. It reinforces the impression that women aren’t good at engineering (writer’s note: for us, insert managing, climbing, routesetting), which is obviously a downward spiral.” —First Round

Read the tips below and get creative! Breaking a mold is difficult and requires thinking outside the box you have been operating in.

Take a look at the recruiting process

Talk to everyone who’s involved in recruiting and hiring and let them know that hiring and retaining women is an important goal for the company.

Make sure that women are represented in your marketing materials and any graphics that are being used to promote job openings: women have to see themselves represented in your media in order to connect with you as a company. Beyond that, make sure that women are involved in the hiring process. We all have unconscious biases and preferences for people who remind us of ourselves. Men who are hiring may subconsciously prefer male candidates. Similarly, having women involved may help female applicants feel more at ease during the interview process.

If you aren’t seeing as many women applicants as you would like, talk to women and find out why they’re not applying.

Advertise in the right places

Make your employees your ambassadors: have them spread the word about job openings and let them know that hiring women is a priority for the company.

Research where women find out about job opportunities and where they get their media, then post ads there. You can also reach out to online communities for women and underrepresented genders like Flash Foxy, Alpenglow Collective, Brown Girls Climb, Indigenous Women Climb.

Hire women at the entry level

Like many other climbing gyms, The Cliffs (where I work) seeks to promote from within whenever we can and offers opportunities for our staff to grow with the company. This makes it even more important that gender parity starts from the ground up, since the people getting promoted to shift supervisor and ultimately to positions in gym and corporate management often start out as general belay or front desk staff.

Provide training

With routesetting in particular, finding qualified routesetters is tough already, and finding routesetters who are women may seem impossible. In the tech world, Etsy launched “Hacker Grants,” which provide need-based scholarships to women enrolling in Hacker School, a 3-month course designed to teach people how to become better engineers.

Although these women may have been risky hires due to a lack of hands-on experience, putting them through Hacker School groomed their hard skills while allowing Etsy to work with them closely over the course of several months. This program has been a success for Etsy, and they’ve hired several women out of the Hacker School.

If your facility has the resources, consider offering a training program for routesetters or providing scholarships for women who want to attend a routesetting course.

Hire women at mid-level, even if they may not have much experience in the climbing/outdoor industry

In the tech industry, bootcamps produce thousands of graduates a year, with a significant percentage being women. These graduates may have entry-level coding skills, but mid-level professional skills: you won’t have to teach them how to manage teams, write professional emails, and stick to budgets and deadlines.

In the climbing industry, we can look for career changers who have cut their teeth in other sectors, but are passionate about climbing and looking for opportunities in a fast-growing industry.

Take a look at your employee benefits + perks

Make sure that your employee perks and benefits appeal to women by talking to the women who already work for you.

Paid parental leave, flex time, the ability to work from home, and medical benefits that cover family planning and prenatal care support employees who are (aspiring) parents.

Promote women

Having women at all levels of your company, particularly in upper management, provides staff with the opportunity to have women as mentors, role models, and knowledge-keepers. You’ll also send the strong message that women are not only hired, but also promoted within the company, which will help attract motivated female candidates.

Further, research shows that companies with more women in management have less sexual harassment.

Retaining women

It’s lonely being the only woman

Etsy found the most success when there were either zero or two women engineers on a team. “If there’s only one, she’s a woman engineer as opposed to just an engineer.” Keep this in mind, particularly with routesetting: hiring two female routesetters will likely increase the chances of them both sticking around, since they won’t be alone on a male-dominated team.

Preventing + addressing harassment

Create space for people to share their experiences in the workplace and take their concerns seriously. Implement a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to harassment.

Research shows that traditional sexual harassment training doesn’t work. In a recent article, The New York Times broke down several methods that work in addressing harassment, including empowering bystanders to intervene, encouraging team members to speak up in support of marginalized colleagues, promoting more women, encouraging reporting of harassment, and providing training seriously and often.

At The Cliffs, we had the opportunity to work with Alicia Ortiz for our inclusiveness and diversity training. She’s an incredible facilitator who is the Education Director for Let’s Be Clear. I highly recommend her for your training needs if you’re based in the Northeast. The Avarna Group also provides trainings and resources on equity, inclusion and diversity.


Make sure women feel supported, even if they are the minority on a team. Create a “calling in” culture where team members feel empowered and responsible for letting each other know when behavior or language they use is unacceptable. Be aware of microaggressions — words or actions with undertones of sexism, racism, or any other “-ism” — which may be subtle or imperceptible to the casual observer, but can compound over time to have serious effects on mental health and quality of life. (See: How Microaggressions Are Like Mosquito Bites)

For more resources on “calling in,” microaggressions, and other social justice issues, check out Everyday Feminism and The Avarna Group.

“Patience is a requirement. Habits are hard to break, and your culture may favor the incumbent majority until you get closer to parity.” — Tech Crunch

Check in regularly with women who are on male-dominated teams and conduct exit interviews with employees who quit. Is the culture friendly for women? Are there other issues affecting employee satisfaction that should be addressed? Knowledge is power. Letting go of defensiveness (even though it sucks to learn that your culture may be unfriendly to women) allows you to gain a true perspective on what is happening and take steps to address it.

If you’ve read this far, you’re on the right track! But thinking about gender equality is not enough. Write down three actions you’re going to take and share it with your team. Keep each other accountable! Feel free to share your thoughts below as well.

Read More

TechCrunch: How to recruit, hire and retain female engineers

SocialTalent: Emma Watson: Your New Recruitment Guru — How to: Attract, Source and Recruit Women

First Round: How Etsy Grew their Number of Female Engineers by Almost 500% in One Year

TechCrunch: There’s a simple solution to tech’s gender imbalance…hire more damn women

Alpenglow Collective: Breaking Barriers in the Women’s and Trans Climbing Community

(Reposted from Touchstone Climbing Blog)

By Emily Mannisto.

When my friend Andrew and I made our first attempt on Mount Triumph in the North Cascades in early season conditions, we went to the Marblemount Ranger Station to check in and get our backcountry passes. The ranger looked at Andrew and asked, “So where are you looking to get a permit?” Andrew looked at me. I smiled politely at the park ranger and answered, “We’re climbing Mount Triumph.” He scribbled something down and again looked at Andrew and asked, “And which route are you planning on doing?” I replied, “The Northeast Ridge.” He scribbled. Looked up…at Andrew…who shrugged. The ranger looked uneasily at me. “And uh…where do you plan to…camp?” I answered confidently, pointing one dirty fingernail at the map displayed neatly in front of us, “At the col, above Middle Thornton Lake.” He filled out the rest of our permit as I asked him about snow conditions and trip reports, whether any climbing rangers had been up there recently, if the bivvy site had running water, notified him that I had been checking weather conditions on the mountain…

Photo by Kat Borchers

Due to whiteout conditions and slushy ice on 45 degree glacial slopes, Andrew and I had to retreat off the mountain before even making it to the roped part of the climb. But in August I returned with another friend who hadn’t done an alpine multi-pitch climb before.

This time as we were waiting to get a permit, I made sure to conspicuously point out to my friend where all of the most inspiring peaks in North Cascades were, which ones I had climbed, which ones I was looking to tackle next, and what grade they went at. I felt a little dumb afterwards, thinking, “Why did you feel the need to validate yourself?” I shouldn’t have to prove which climbs I’ve done or that I am the leader of this trip, not him. But, to put it simply…I often feel like I do.

Photo by Nicole Wasko

My ex-boyfriend taught me how to climb outside, to place cams and nuts, to travel efficiently across glaciers and snow, to build a complex trad anchor, to navigate a meandering alpine ridge. To be honest, I owe most of my climbing knowledge to him. But then something crazy happened. We broke up, and instead of my climbing career ending, it exploded. I climbed Mount Hood, and not just the standard route. I led three complex alpine climbs in the North Cascades. I led multi-pitch climbs at Smith Rock, Red Rocks, Yosemite, and Seneca Rocks. I learned how to lead above my grade, to place pickets, to rappel in the dark, to improvise, to make mistakes again and again and continue to learn and grow. I gained knowledge from my own experiences, and from the other strong, experienced women I climbed with.

Climbing with women and trans folks is a refreshingly different experience—I feel encouraged, comfortable, and driven in a unique way that pushes me to try my hardest. But it can be difficult to meet other climbers with the same ambitions, style of climbing, and availability. We searched for a forum where women and underrepresented genders could connect and climb based on these criteria, and couldn’t find quite what we were looking for.

So we built it. Alpenglow Collective is a climbing community for women and underrepresented genders. It is an inclusive platform where women (cis and trans), trans folks of all genders, and gender non-conforming folks can connect, find climbing partners, and create lasting relationships. The site is unique from existing women’s climbing forums in that it is not a blog, a message board, or a general meet-up site. It focuses specifically on pairing women and underrepresented genders with others by creating a profile and browsing for climbers in their area with similar interests, schedules, and goals. We hope that Alpenglow Collective can create a welcoming community for women and trans climbers who want to improve their skills, plan trips, and just hang out with others who are passionate about the same things that they are.

We are really excited to foster these relationships and provide a way for climbers to find others at their skill level as well as mentors, particularly because climbing is historically a mentorship-based sport. By creating these mentorships, climbers can learn proper outdoor safety, and how to best respect and preserve our natural public spaces.

Photo by Brooke Jackson

Through these partnerships, we want to see more women and underrepresented genders teaching each other how to get past that hard move, how to perfectly place a nut in a constriction, how to use their stature to their benefit instead of their detriment. The barriers to entry are there, but maybe if we have women and trans folks leading the way, those barriers will seem less like a blank face and more like a tricky crux we’ve yet to tackle.

We at Touchstone are so psyched about this community and can’t wait to see everyone out in the wild. Join Alpenglow Collective and be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram!

Red Rocks Retreat w/ Alpenglow Collective

Photo by Irene Yee

Temps are rising, the days are getting longer, and if you’re anything like us… summer trips are already in full swing! Wyoming, North Carolina, the North Cascades– these are only a few of the places our adventures are taking us. Where will the rest of the year take you?

Photo by Irene Yee

Closing out the winter months, we squeezed in an Alpenglow retreat weekend at Red Rock Canyon, NV (ancestral land of the Western Shoshone and Southern Paiute).

Even though snow and rain kept us off the classic Red Rocks sandstone for a day, we managed to squeeze in a mini trad clinic, plenty of sport cragging, baby’s first trad lead (x2!), and hanging out with Irene Yee, aka @ladylockoff. The sun, the sandstone, the pals– all welcome respites for those of us who call the rainy Pacific Northwest home.

Photo by Irene Yee

Photo by Irene Yee

Photo by Irene Yee

Photo by Irene Yee


Nominate the next Badass Climber!

We loved featuring Elyse as our badass climber of the moment, but it’s time for a change! Post a comment with who you think should be the next featured climber on our homepage (and why!), or feel free to email me directly.

Seattle-ites! Let’s Meet Up and Chat this Week

Hey Seattle-ites! I’ll be visiting the city this Monday and Tuesday and would love to climb with some of you and also get some input on your user experience of Alpenglow Collective / what you’d like to see.  If you’re around (especially during the day) and can climb or grab a drink and chat let me know!



Welcome to the Alpenglow

Hey everyone, welcome to Alpenglow Collective. I’m really excited to have finally launched this thing and am eagerly awaiting all of your feedback and inputs. When I decided to post about AC on Facebook a few days ago, I just figured that I would show a couple of friends and continue to tinker around with the look and functions until I had everything perfect. BUT after a few friends shared my post and people whose names I don’t recognize began signing up, I realized it was time to actually take this release seriously and get cracking. I’ll be making a ton of edits within the next couple of weeks, so please feel free to shoot me an email – if you’ve got some ideas! Looking forward to connecting with you all and kicking this off in a big way!

How Ready is Ready?


This project is the first thing in awhile that literally keeps me up at night.

I get these big ideas pretty frequently- I’m going to start a blog. I’m going to write a book about my adventures. I’m going to learn photography so I can work for an outdoor magazine. I’m going to start an Etsy where I can sell the little things I make. I’m going to…. not see any of these through.

This too started as a thought, a suggestion, a glimmer of something I mentioned in passing with a girl I fit a harness for at REI. I put it on the backburner for a bit. But once I realized that people were actually interested in this, that it wasn’t just a couple of encouraging friends gushing “oh ya that’s a great idea!” and that I REALLY wanted to use this myself, I knew I had to go for it. I don’t know anything about coding. I don’t have any experience with web design or social media (What is a hashtag really for…?). But I stayed up late one night fucking around with CSS over and over again and FINALLY something clicked. And ever since, I’ve been avidly plowing away at this thing and literally cannot wait to come home from a 14 hour day at work and sit behind my computer to work on it.

If you’re reading this now (Mid-October), you’re one of the verrrrry select few people I’ve let in on this thing. SO HELP A SISTER OUT AND CRITIQUE THE SHIT OUT OF IT. The design is still in its baby I-don’t-know-how-to-code-so-gimme-a-break steps. The content is the most important here. What do you want to see? What’s missing? What’s confusing? What’s awkward or ugly?

Thank you, ladies of the Alpenglow. Stay rad.


Parts of a Whole: The Collective

I’ve been so inspired by all of the female climbers and alpinists I’ve encountered lately, especially those who have been actively trying to get more women outside. There are numerous Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, independent media, and apparel companies geared towards women who climb, emboldening them to get out, meet up, and form a community. The one thing I feel is missing is a uniting forum for all of these mediums where women can seek out mentors, partners, gear advice, route beta, and events in their area. The goal of AlpenglowCollective is to provide a space to amass all of our resources and to go a step beyond.

There will be many facets of AlpenglowCollective, but the one I am most excited about is the “Mentors/Partners” page. This tool will be focused on finding women in your area who want to get out and climb, regardless of age or experience. Your profile will provide your climbing level, where you are looking to climb, and your goals and aspirations. For example – “I have been climbing for a year and a half, I am passionate about trad and alpine, I want to learn more about crevasse rescue and building complex trad anchors.” This way, you can easily pair up with people who you want to learn more from, who could benefit from your knowledge, or who have similar goals.

This is a true work in progress, and any input/suggestions/things you would like to see would be extremely appreciated! I am super excited to work with everyone on uniting this rad community, and can’t wait to meet some more badass lady climbers.