Top 15 Black Women & Non-Binary Rock Climbers to Follow on Instagram
Interested in diversifying your outdoor Instagram feed? We can help! African, Afro-Latinx, African American women and genderqueer climbers of all backgrounds are shaking up the climbing industry! Stay up to date with our list of 15 Black Women & Non-Binary Climbers to Follow on Instagram!
1. Melise Edwards @meliseymo
Melise Edwards is a powerful voice on Instagram speaking up for women and communities of color in the Outdoors. Whether she’s tackling #MeToo, bullying or the erasure of dark skinned women in outdoor advertising her account is a reminder that our words and actions do make a difference! Outdoor adventure sports aren’t simply a retreat from societal issues. Instead they offer a chance to leverage privilege for good and give back to underserved communities. That’s why Melise is #1 on our list! You can check out this climber and aspiring neuroscientist at @meliseymo!
2. Favia Dubyk @felinefavia
Dr. Favia Dubyk is a cancer survivor living in New Mexico with her partner and crag dog Hans. She's also a MelaninBaseCamp.com blogger and the founder of TraverseGirl.com. Favia identifies as a technical climber with a passion for bouldering roofs, lowballs and traverses and her account, @felinefavia does not disappoint! It's full of crag shots from the Southwest USA along with teasers from her recent appearance on American Ninja Warrior Season 10. As someone who survived cancer and found a vocational calling in helping others she embodies resilience and the idea of living each day to the fullest! Check out her page at @felinefavia!
3. Kareemah Batts @herhopness @adaptclimbgroup
Kareemah Batts is the founder of the Adaptive Climbing Group. As a climbing industry disruptor, she helped transform the industry approach towards climbers with disabilities away from annual clinics and inconsistent engagement in favor of weekly meet ups and consistent community building. Adaptive Climbing Group also sponsors adaptive climbers which compete nationally and internationally! As a cancer survivor and a single leg below the knee amputee she found personal resilience and meaning in the outdoors. Kareemah is also proof that all of your outdoor diversity and inclusion friends on Instagram do in fact know each other! She's incredibly supportive of the wider #DiversifyOutdoors community and often shows up on other outdoor diversity Insta feeds. Kareemah makes time to support athletes, advocates and organizations like Kai Lightner, Brothers of Climbing, Brown People Camping, Venture Out and more! Check out her feed at @herhopness or follow @adaptclimbgroup to learn more!
Photographed by Atlas Cooper Photography @atlascooperphotography.
4. Sophia Danenberg @sophiaclimbs
You may not find very many climbing photos at @sophiaclimbs but you will find the first African American to climb Mt. Everest: Sophia Danenberg. In keeping with her low key style, Sophia scaled Everest in 2006 without issuing a single press release to broadcast her accomplishment! She wasn’t sponsored and the decision that led her to the summit of Everest on May 19, 2006 was almost spur of the moment! Sophia has also climbed notable peaks all over the world to include the Matterhorn, Ama Dablam and Aconcagua. To hear more of her candid thoughts on being a Black Woman climber in a predominantly male sport check out her interview with Melanin Base Camp, here! And follow her on Instagram at @sophiaclimbs!
5. Grace Anderson @amaze_me_grace
Grace Anderson knows her way around the climbing community! She is a former National Outdoors Leadership School (NOLS) Diversity & Inclusion Fellow and was also named one of America’s 30 under 30 by the Outdoor Industry Association. After growing up in the Shenandoah Valley she fell in love with the outdoors while attending Winston Salem State University. From there she worked all over Outdoor Industry to include the Sierra Club, Girl Ventures in the Bay Area and NOLS where she helped organize Expedition Denali: the first all African American team to climb Denali. Grace also helps organize People of the Global Majority in the Outdoors, Nature and the Environment (PGM ONE): an annual summit in Oakland that brings together young People of Color from across the country to address environmental issues impacting communities of color. You can follow this change agent at @amaze_me_grace on Instagram—keep an eye out for stunning sport and trad climbing photos! Or sign up for her backpacking retreat for women of color!
Photographed by Sara Cortese @kansasthug
6. Bethany Lebewitz @browngirlsclimb
Bethany is a biracial Mexican American and the founder of Brown Girls Climb. These days she’s busy creating spaces within the climbing community “where Women of Color can connect, learn and confidently take on leadership roles!” In the last 18 months she grew Brown Girls Climb from a monthly meet-up in a few cities to a leadership network of Black, Latinx and Indigenous women climbers across the country. She also partnered with Brothers of Climbing on the first ever Color the Crag event in Alabama in Oct 2017; bringing together climbers of color from across the United States. Bethany innovates, collaborates and ‘lifts others while she climbs.’ Check out her page at @browngirlsclimb and tag your photos #browngirlsclimb for a feature!
7. Gabby Dickerson @gabbyplainandsmall
Gabby is a 21 year old DC area climber with 2.5 years of experience in the sport. Her bouldering style is technical, relying on precise footwork, and very crimpy. She recently fell in love with steep overhanging terrain and roof climbing. Check out her Insta feed for beautiful climbing photos from the New River Gorge and the Red River Gorge as well as thoughtful long form captions and short girl beta! When she’s not at the crag you can also find her crushing in her chosen career field of Information Technology. Gabby is living proof that Black girls climb and code! Follow her at @gabbyplainandsmall on Instagram.
Photographed by Otto Wiblishauser @bavarian.cowboy .
8. Summer Winston @thebrownascenders
Summer is a genderqueer, multiracial climber and organizer from the Bay Area. They are also the founder of The Brown Ascenders: a climbing meetup for self identified climbers of color hosted in partnership with @touchstoneclimbing. Their goal in founding The Brown Ascenders was to “create a space where people could get strong together with no code switching requirement.” They have done just that! Diversity in climbing matters to Summer because “it’s about what others in our community think is possible for themselves. Like, right now I am so inspired by Brittany Leavitt @bleavitt8 and she probably doesn’t even know it. She is about to do a Kilimanjaro expedition and for the first time I feel like, hey maybe I could try that one day.” Looking for inspiration? Follow Summer on Instagram at @summerseeking and @thebrownascenders!
9. Brittany Leavitt @bleavitt8
Brittany Leavitt is a 29 year old Brown Girls Climb leader, an REI outdoor instructor, and the Outdoor Afro Northeast Regional Leader. She’s currently climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro along with an all African American Outdoor Afro expedition. Her feed is full of inspiring climbing and hiking shots! We love watching her excel as a climber, speaker, guide and instructor. Don’t sleep on this phenomenal athlete! Check out her page at @bleavitt8!
10. Maiza Lima @maizalimarock
Maiza Lima is a Brazilian sport climber and mountaineer living in the Pacific Northwest with her partner. She’s been climbing for over four years and her favorite climbing destination is the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. Maiza loves hitting the road in order to explore different routes. Her feed is bright and colorful with stunning captures from climbing trips in Washington, Montana, Nevada and Utah. We can’t wait to see where she ends up next! Check out her feed at @maizalimarock!
Photographed by Jeremy Fischer @jeremyfischer
11. Laura Edmondson @laura.edmondson
Laura Edmondson has been climbing for only three years although you might not guess that from this photo of her atop a 5-pitch 5.10c called Eagles Nest in Maple Canyon, UT. She shared with Melanin Base Camp that "a few years ago, when I met my partner, he took me out to a local crag and taught me how to safely lead climb and I've been at it ever since!" Her climbing style is dynamic and she especially enjoys overhung cave climbs. Her favorite climbing destinations are Wild Iris, a sport climbing spot at Limestone Mountain in Lander, WY and Kalymnos, a vacation destination for sport climbing in Greece. She's a brand ambassador for Aret Basewear and WoolxWool and she's also a regional leader for Brown Girls Climb. Follow her on Instagram at @laura.edmondson!
Photographed by Nicholas Brennan @nickbplus
12. Kiyana Pulido @kiyana.pulido
Kiyana started climbing just over a year ago and hasn’t looked back. She loves “roofs and overhung boulders with big moves to pockets” and her climbing style is dynamic. Her favorite climbing workout is hangboarding and her favorite climbing spot is Priest Draw in Flagstaff, Arizona. She recently entered her first competition at the Focus Climbing Center and came away with best in category! We’re excited to see where Kiyana goes next! Until then follow her on Instagram at @kiyana.pulido for inspiring bouldering photos from the southwest United States.
Photographed by Connor Mesner @connor.messner
13. Liz, @climbinglifekenya
Liz started climbing in 2015 as a way to switch up her regular routine. She prefers static climbing but is working on becoming more comfortable with dyno. She normally climbs at the Lukenya Crag in Kenya and at Hell’s Gate National Park. She created @ClimbingLifeKenya in order to challenge herself and help raise awareness about the sport in Kenya. Liz is a firm believer in the sentiment: “you can’t be what you can’t see.” She reflects that “by sharing my rock climbing journey through social media, I am inviting other Kenyans to be curious about rock climbing, to start talking about it and realise that they can do it too.” Liz sees lack of diversity as one of the factors limiting the growth of climbing in Kenya. She hopes that increasing representation will help “Kenyans, particularly of African descent, feel a sense of belonging in what is still largely viewed as a western sport. Think about it, if the local community becomes invested in rock climbing, they will join in growing it, protecting it and preserving it for future generations. Now, wouldn’t that be something?” Follow Liz at @climbinglifekenya on Instagram!
Photographed by (@samclimb254)
14. Sasha McGhee @nibblekit
Colorado based IT project manager Sasha McGhee learned to climb in Monterey Bay, CA before meeting her partner who showed her the basic techniques of bouldering, sport and trad. She explained to Melanin Base Camp that "once I found my niche and a supportive community of badass women, I made the sport my own!" Her journey led her to Colorado where she is currently a leader for Brown Girls Climb. Sasha enjoys sport climbing as well as bouldering when the temperatures are cooler. Her go to is "an easy trad multi-pitch with stellar views on a lazy spring or summer afternoon." Her preferred style is crimpy and technical on vertical rock. She calls Clear Creek Canyon in Golden, Colorado home for the "wonderful climbs and stunning views" but she's also a big fan of "Wild Iris in Lander, Wyoming or Smith Rock in Terrebonne, Oregon. For bouldering, I have to say Stone Fort (Little Rock City) in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. All three areas are really accessible, have a wide variety of quality routes and large communities of climbers to share the crag.” We love that Sasha is just one of many Brown Girls Climb leaders helping to transform the sport by making climbing and especially climbing leadership opportunities more accessible to women of color. Follow Sasha at @nibblekit on Instagram and don't forget to check out Brown Girls Climb and Colorado Brown Girls Climb on Facebook!
15. Paris Brown @paris_mvmt
Paris Brown was introduced to climbing through parkour. She began bouldering two years ago and fell in love with the technical, problem solving aspect of the sport. Her Instagram flows seamlessly between the gym and crag with cross training tips, obstacles, pegboards, hangboards, and local climbing spots around the DC area. Follow her on Instagram at @paris_mvmt and check out her latest photo series review of five awesome climbing brands.