It was a balmy winter’s afternoon in New York City when I squeezed between the participants of the Women’s March in Columbus Circle to make my way to Central Park. Their signs and shouts still rang loud in my mind as I hopped over the barriers onto the park. As a native New Yorker and frequent visitor of Central Park, I never knew that it was home to such a plethora of bouldering options. One of the most famous ones, Rat Rock, is filled with problems starting from V0 to V12. As I approached the group to find my friend Teddy, we started chatting with other boulderers who were already warmed up and working their projects.
What sparked our conversation was when Teddy asked about a project I’m working on called Yenu. Originally I had started it as an online space celebrating female climbers but I had recently changed it to focus on celebrating the diversity of climbers. My decision to do this stemmed largely from my personal experiences as an Asian American woman. Climbing’s history is predominantly filled with white men but its community is now rapidly changing. So how do we increase visibility of these new members of the community and ensure that they are heard and represented? With Yenu I wanted to set up a site dedicated to celebrating the diversity of the climbing community, one I’ve had the fortune of meeting through climbing in NYC. In fact, this is the first time I’ve been surrounded by so much diversity in an athletic setting.
There’s something that all climbers seem to share. Some might call it obsession, but I think climbers would describe it as determination, focus, and persistence to overcome obstacles no matter how big or small. We find a problem and don’t let go until we finish it. We relish in the process, failing so many times but always getting back up. And even more importantly, we rely on our partners and trust them to be there when we need them the most. While there’s so much that we all share as climbers, I found even more comfort in NYC in seeing faces I could identify with. But this isn’t always the case at every crag or every gym. It’s time we celebrate what makes us different, take pride in it, and create the change we want to see.
My goal for Yenu is to create a climbing site that celebrates our differences as an element of strength, to create a platform for conversation, and to cultivate a community that includes all members. Otherwise, how can we make progress without holding others and ourselves responsible to accept conversation and to not be afraid of opposing views? If you like the sound of Yenu, then hit me up!
Photographer and climber born and raised in NYC find her at loveyenu.com.