About

The mission of ASCEND’s Equity and Outreach Department is to ensure that IDEA values (inclusion, diversity, equity, access) are addressed and prioritized in the workplace, among the staff, and within the community. Our driving ethos is to ensure more people have safe and equitable access to climbing and the outdoors.

EQUITY + OUTREACH INFORMATION SESSIONS

In order to provide foundational information regarding ASCEND's Equity + Outreach Department, Maria Rose, the founding Director of the Equity + Outreach department, held a number of Information Sessions. Much ground work has been laid over this past year, so in addition to building this page out with pertinent information and forthcoming initiatives, we thought it would be helpful to speak directly to our community. 

  • Video #1: What is the Equity and Outreach Department all about? What is the Community Advisory Board? What is our ETHOS?
  • Video #2: Affinity Sessions: What are they? Why are they important? Pricing Initiatives: Free Day Passes, Support Membership. Program funding.
  • Video #3: Program phases - Logistical, Inclusive, Transformative.
  • Video #4: ASCEND Internal Work. Interesectional Environmentalist. 

WATCH INFO SESSION VIDEOS

Access

At ASCEND, we value our community above all else. We believe that a diverse community, representing people from all backgrounds, only strengthens us — so we want to make sure that we’re doing our part to make climbing accessible and approachable for as many people as possible.

There are multiple barriers to climbing, outdoor recreation, and outdoor spaces in general. Just one of those barriers is the cost. Paying for standard access can be a burden to some, and can prevent people from participating in an activity that we love, that we want to share, and that we think brings comfort and challenge to everyone who participates.

Complimentary Day Passes

This one is on us. Enjoy a session at ASCEND with rental gear included, free of charge. We all deserve to afford ourselves the benefits of fitness and wellness, new and exciting experiences, and to be a part of a vibrant community. We recognize our community experiences different levels of financial comfort — that aren’t always equitable or fair. So, paying to climb isn’t always manageable. This is just one tool to provide some balance.

These Complimentary Day Passes are available to anyone who needs it, no questions asked and no strings attached. All that we'd like to mention is that if you can afford regular admission please choose that route instead, and leave these passes for those who will benefit most. A limited number of Day Passes are made available each day and we'd love for each of them to go to good homes.

PITTSBURGH - REGISTER NOW

YOUNGSTOWN - REGISTER NOW

Supported Memberships + Rental Packages

ASCEND offers Supported Memberships to help ease the cost for people who want to climb, but might not be able to add another bill to their monthly budget. There are two prices below that you can choose from — pick whichever one helps you the most. You do not have to provide us any proof of income or additional information. We trust our community. Keep in mind that this program is for people who have real financial needs. That can look like anyone, but we’re also thinking specifically of vulnerable and marginalized communities who have, as a group, been systematically disenfranchised — especially BIPOC communities. Please take the time to consider whether this program is for you.

Renting gear each visit can be expensive. ASCEND has a monthly rental package, which includes unlimited rental use of shoes, harnesses, belay devices, and chalk. If you are paying for a Supported Membership, you can select a Supported Rental Package add on when you fill out your Membership Sign Up form.  

Prices correspond to the Supported Membership option you selected.

PITTSBURGH - PREPAID MONTH MEMBERSHIP

 YOUNGSTOWN - PREPAID MONTH MEMBERSHIP

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PITTSBURGH - MONTHLY EFT MEMBERSHIP

YOUNGSTOWN - MONTHY EFT MEMBERSHIP


Still having trouble meeting these prices? Or, are there other programs you want to be a part of, but are having trouble accessing? Please complete this form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

CAB

The ASCEND Community Advisory Board (CAB) is a community-led group that works alongside ASCEND's management to create an equitable, just, and safe environment for all. The CAB presents tangible and specific internal recommendations and external actions to better engage with the local community, create new opportunities in climbing and recreation, and raise awareness around issues of social and racial injustice. The CAB holds ASCEND accountable to its goals and operations and aims to be a net positive force not only in the climbing community, but in the city of Pittsburgh.

MONTHLY CAB EVENTS

Want to know more about the community you're in? Grab a cup of coffee (or beverage of choice) and settle in for our virtual coffee chats! ASCEND's Community Advisory Board (CAB), a group of diverse members, hosts monthly virtual conversations about topics that impact our community — from climbing, to Black History Month, to how to stay sane amidst COVID-19. See you there!! We look forward to seeing you!

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

CURRENT CAB MEMBERS
  • ASCEND Company Representive: Maria Rose
  • ASCEND Community Members: Ru Emmons, Gaurav Balakrishnan, Marcelle Bonterre, DJ Grant, Sara Brown, Prachi Jhala, Dan Salahuddin, Deepshikha Sharma
Affinity Sessions

Join ASCEND as we celebrate our diverse communities with Affinity Sessions — a climbing session, twice a month, dedicated to individuals who haven't always had equal access to or treatment within the sport. It's a space dedicated to intentional inclusivity, not exclusivity, and we invite you to participate and be a part of these efforts.

  • *1st (BIPOC) + 3rd (QFTW) Saturday each month, 6p-8p
  • Currently only offered at ASCEND Pittsburgh
  • Please register for session below, by contacting the front desk, or by emailing [email protected]
  • Rotating between BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) + QFTW (Queer, Femme, Trans, Women)
  • These climbing sessions are free and are intended only for those in our community who identify with the affinity groups listed.

BIPOC AFFINITY SESSIONS REGISTRATION

QFTW AFFINITY SESSIONS REGISTRATION

*Generally, but in the event of a scheduling conflict these sessions may be rescheduled. Always consult the registration calendars to be sure.

Intersesting in teaching a yoga or fitness classes as a guest instructor at an upcoming Affinity Session? SEND US A MESSAGE!

Land

Information on Land Acknowledgement coming soon!

Clubs
MC1R (Many Colors | 1 Route)

Meetup days and times coming soon!

ASCEND’s MC1R group is a gym-affiliated club that serves as an inclusive space for people of color and ethnic minorities to climb together and explore the outdoors while supporting each other mentally and physically. Anyone is welcome to join (PoC and white people alike), and all are encouraged to participate, expand their community, and develop climbing skills while also engaging in conversation around racial and social justice. This group believes that systemic racism and oppression is prevalent in all settings and that it is important to intentionally create opportunities to challenge and rewrite that narrative. By having these conversations in a setting that is comfortable and openminded, and that is rooted in an enjoyable practice, participants can anchor these difficult issues to a more relatable context.

We encourage people of all backgrounds to ask questions, participate in the monthly conversations, and learn about the group. For further information, check out this blog post (coming soon), talk to our staff, follow them on Instagram, or email the MC1R coordinator, Maria Rose. See you on Tuesday nights!

Queer Scouts

Meetup days and times coming soon!

Queer Scouts is a LGBTQ climbing club, with the goal of creating connection and a safer and more inclusive outdoors community. Just look for the Queer Scout mascot, the tiny rainbow unicorn!

WOW (Womxn On Walls)

Meetup days and times coming soon!

A casual meetup located at ASCEND where womxn can crush climbs, beers*, and the patriarchy, or just hang out and meet new friends!

*No beer will be served or allowed on premise.

Funding

ASCEND recognizes that, as a for-profit climbing gym, we benefit from more people climbing in Pittsburgh. We recognize that it is our prerogative to support resources for our customers and member base, at our expense, not yours. That being said, as we strive to expand access to, awareness of, and a sense of ownership over outdoor spaces for youth and BIPOC (who haven’t had equitable access to those spaces), we cannot pay for everything that we believe needs to change, all at once. 

Throughout our time, people have contributed money or inquired about donating, and we want to transparently and responsibly put those resources to use. So, we’ve set up this program, to be managed by a department with the sole focus of improving equity in this space.

We intend to spend this fund towards:

  • Improved accessibility to climbing/outdoor spaces
    • Ex. scholarships for youth to attend camp or team, support to buy climbing shoes or gear, extra programming to get people climbing outside
  • Events and programming around IDEA topics
    • These events will only include equity initiatives, which include looking at issues of access, affordability, race, gender. 
    • Ex. paying for guest instructors during our Affinity Sessions, or if we held a panel to discuss gender in competitions, paying someone to be the moderator. 
  • Community Advisory Board budget
    • Ex. to plan events or initiatives

This program will not pay for, which instead fall squarely on ASCEND’s shoulders: 

  • Staff trainings
  • Standard admission to ASCEND
  • Food or materials for staff/CAB meetings, listening sessions, or events
  • Wage for anyone on staff
  • Running regular ASCEND youth programming (ex. Camps, Team, etc)
  • Making changes to ASCEND’s operations that improve accessibility

ASCEND will make regular contributions to the program, accounted for within the quarterly budget. This amount will range with a cap of $2,500 for the program’s initial launch, which will hopefully grow in the future. Future contributions will be pre-determined annually, based on ASCEND’s financial status, and ASCEND promises to make a good-faith effort to make the largest regular contributions possible. The Director of Equity and Outreach will manage the fund by creating a quarterly budget, disbursing money and tracking expenses, and writing summary reports on what has been spent.

If you feel like you need help to do more in climbing — like buy shoes or learn to climb outside — email our Director of Equity and Outreach at [email protected]. We’re so excited to help you as much as we can!

THREE WAYS TO CONTRIBUTE

1. TO ADD A MONTHLY DONATION TO YOUR RECURRING MEMBERSHIP, SUBMIT YOUR REQUEST HERE. Just select "Other request - use additional comments below" and indicate how much per month you'd like to add to your membership billing.

2. TO BECOME A NEW MEMBER AND ADD A MONTHLY DONATION TO YOUR RECURRING MEMBERSHIP, BECOME A SUPER MEMBER HERE.

3. ROUND UP FOR EQUITY anytime you buy anything at the front desk, by rounding up your purchase to the nearest dollar. Simply let us know when you make a purchase!

4. MAKE A ONE-TIME DONATION

Resources

There is a wealth of information out there. Here are just some resources for our community to consider.

Friends of ASCEND
  • Intersectional Environmentalist - Intersectional Environmentalism is an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected. It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality.
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