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.


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. 



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.

Supported Admission

Supported admission draws from ASCEND's Equity + Outreach Fund, which is supported by limited community funding. While we do not seek proof of financial status, we kindly ask that supported service recipients identify with having little or no expendable income, qualify for government assistance, are an elder with limited financial support, are a returning citizen denied work due to incarceration, have medical expenses not covered by insurance, or are experiencing any other unique or systemic financial hardship or inequity. If you are not in need of Supported admission and would instead like to purchase Community priced admission, please go HERE.

Renting gear each visit can also 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.


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


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.

Contact the CAB

We invite you to join the ASCEND Community Advisory Board's Google Group!

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
  • Events rotate each month between South Side and Point Breeze
  • Please register for session below or by contacting the front desk.
  • Rotating between BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) + QFTW (Queer, Femme, Trans, Women)
  • These climbing sessions are intended only for those in our community who identify with these affinity groups. Admission is FREE for first-time visitors and members, and $10 for returning guests. Rental equipment not included.

If you haven't already, read up on how to create your new online account and get our new app HERE.

Otherwise, view the schedule and book classes and programs HERE.

*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!


Information on Land Acknowledgement coming soon!


ASCEND recognizes that, as a for-profit climbing gym, we benefit from more people climbing in Pittsburgh. We also recognize that it is our prerogative to support resources for our customers and member base, at our expense, not yours. However, 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 all at once that we believe needs to change. 

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 the Equity + Outreach department with the sole focus of improving equity in this space.

We intend to spend this fund towards:

  • Improved financial accessibility to climbing/outdoor spaces
    • Supported addmission options
    • Supported programs for youth to attend camp or team, outdoor climbing trips, and more!
    • 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
  • 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 also make regular contributions to the program. ASCEND promises to make a good-faith effort to make the largest regular contributions possible. The Director of Equity + Outreach will manage the fund by creating a 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!


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.


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. In-store only at this time.


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.