Mexico, USA, Canada. Three months, 9 states, 12 slideshows - and one climber in a sprinter van. After three months of the Move Mountains Tour, I end here:
"BeyondTalks: Climbing Out of Poverty" is the name of a talk in Colorado, USA interviewing two collaborating at-risk youth projects in Brazil and Mexico. These two projects work in underdeveloped areas of major cities, where Latin America's largest wealth gaps exist. There are problems that stem from poverty and illiteracy and teenage pregnancy to corruption, organized crime, and violence - and climbing really can significantly make an impact here. These rich, large cities are always close to the coast, and have gorgeous mountains in the backdrop:
Rio de Janiero, Monterrey, Vancouver...these places are with an hour of Potreco Chico and El Salto, Squamish and Whistler, Corcovadu and Sugarloaf!
You probably need some back story. I moved into a Sprinter van to pursue my dream of climbing perpetually, and on rainy day in Squamish visited The Climb n Conquer Project in Vancouver with Joseph Wong. I'd found the pamphlet on the Hive Gym's counter, and within a day was signed up to volunteer in the Richmond Olympic Oval nearby. This started it all.
In one hour, I worked with a group of girls and their parents from Big Brother Big Sister, and could tangibly feel the psych these girls felt - I felt the same way when I was their age, and world famous climber Chris Sharma would walk into the home gym we shared. He was my source of inspiration to be my best, and here I was continuing the cycle. It was so easy. It's not so easy in Brazil, with CEU, but Andrew puts 100% of himself into the project:
And I realized: climbers can move mountains, both in a revolutionary way and literal sense (bringing climbing gyms that connect the mountain culture to the city). By helping projects in different locations, the seasonal migration of climbers are an international tie to these projects and famous areas. There could be an entity that connects these projects - in Vancouver, Denver, Mexico, maybe even across the pond in Barcelona - with the international climbing community, and grants and funding.
Every gym has lost and found gear, and that gear can go to local projects. (Seattle Bouldering Project gave me 10 trash bags full of used shoes and safe equipment.)
Traveling climbers create ecotourism in the mountains where the traffic flows. (Squamish, Potrero Chico, and even El Salto are growing more popular every season as infrastructure is laid by local mountain societies.)
And those famous athletes that inspire millions? Honnold, Claassen, Sharma, Messner, Andrada, Woods, Ozturk? When they go somewhere, the world knows it, and they still work independently.
When the youth projects collaborate, and the athletes collaborate, there don't need to be sponsors. There is a strong voice, and it speaks to the kids about dreams and ambition, it motivates them to finish school. To climb higher. To be curious, and explore the limits of their neighborhood, their mental and physical capabilities, and gives them that momentum that carries them to the edge of the atmosphere and talks about the climate and the bigger perspective, where they pull away from gravity and begin to explore space.
This is why these projects are needed, and why they need to collaborate.
Hence, the "Move Mountains Tour" in North America. My Sprinter van "WallE" has traveled through 3 countries and 9 states over the past 3 months, collecting equipment and materials for the first established rock refuge in the big city of Monterrey, Mexico, near El Potrero Chico and El Salto.