Indoor climbing has exploded in popularity in recent years. Yet, many climbing gyms in the U.S. are not capable of accommodating people with physical disabilities, keeping the sport out of reach for many who otherwise might love to climb.
For more than 50 years, The North Face has supported the climbing community and believes that a person's physical abilities shouldn't limit access to the sport. By teaming up with Paradox Sports, the nation's premier adaptive climbing organization, we sponsored and collectively launched the Adaptive Climbing Initiative (ACI).
The ACI is a first-of-its-kind program designed to train climbing gyms across the U.S. in adaptive techniques and provide the equipment necessary to enable people with physical disabilities to climb. The two-day long courses hosted by Paradox Sports are free of charge and provide climbing gyms and the local community with the skills, knowledge, and equipment to work with climbers with disabilities. By brining attention to this opportunity, The North Face and Paradox hope to celebrate the inclusivity of the sport of climbing and inspire gyms to make their climbing programs accessible to all.
Created Awareness of the Issue: Many climbing gyms and people with physical disabilities are unaware that the sport of climbing can be accessible to them with the right adaptive training and equipment. In response, The North Face sought to use the power of its social platforms to highlight the free ACI training options available to gyms and climbers with disabilities. By generating awareness around these climbing opportunities, The North Face and Paradox Sports helped highlight the universal connection climbers share in helping each other "on the wall" and celebrate the inclusive nature of the climbing community. Whether it's seasoned climbers, people with disabilities, or those who are new to the sport, we believe we're all partners in climbing.
To accomplish this goal, we developed and shared content that showed the incredible accomplishments of adaptive climbers.
A. Launch video: Promotion of the initiative kicked off March 22nd with video content as an overview of the Adaptive Climbing Initiative. The video was shared across The North Face and Paradox social platforms. The content was useful in helping climbing gyms understand the training program and helped climbers with disabilities discover how they could join the sport.
B. Climber profiles: We developed and shared video and photo content to highlight stories of climbers putting adaptive training skills to use in extraordinary ways. This included the powerful story of Enock Glidden, a Paradox Sports climber who was born with spina bifida and was paralyzed from the waist down from birth. He performed more than 4,000 pull-ups to ascend El Capitan in Yosemite this past spring.
Engaged Well-Known Climbers: We called on top climbing athletes to raise awareness of this issue and invited indoor climbing gyms to join us for a global climbing day. This not only opened doors for new climbers, welcoming them into the community, but it demonstrated the connection and shared passion of all climbers.
C. Global Climbing Day: On August 19th, The North Face partnered with more than 50 climbing gyms across the globe to raise awareness about the power and inclusivity of the sport of climbing by offering free climbing opportunities. For each person who visited a participating climbing gym, we donated $5, up to $50,000, to Paradox Sports to further the mission to make climbing accessible to all. The Global Climbing Day was promoted through a Facebook event and paid support across The North Face social channels.
D. Speaking Events: We teamed up with Paradox Sports for our summer and fall speaker series events in 11 cities to share climbing stories from The North Face athletes and introductions about the Paradox Sports Adaptive Climbing Initiative to raise further awareness about the gym training options for the adaptive community. All proceeds from the speaking events support Paradox Sports.
The positive response to the Adaptive Climbing Initiative succeeded in creating awareness about adaptive climbing opportunities and recruiting new gyms to sign up for trainings.
To date, 10 climbing gyms have been trained through the Adaptive Climbing Initiative and many more will be trained in the coming months and years. Through the course, 140 people have been trained and over 50 people with disabilities have had the chance to try climbing for the first time. Those who have been trained have the skills needed to provide climbing experiences to people with disabilities, which will result in many more people joining the community over the years.
The awareness surrounding the initiative resulted in over one million views across social channels. Specifically:
● Adaptive Climbing Initiative launch content: 420 K views, 2.1 M impressions, and 62.7 K engagements
● Profile of Yosemite climber, Enock Glidden: 227.9K views, 1 M impressions, and 25 K engagements
● Speaker Series: More than 3,200 tickets have been sold for the The North Face speaker series featuring Paradox.
● Global Climbing Day promotion: 434.7 K views, 584 K impressions, and 4.3 K engagements
Over 12 K climbers participated in Global Climbing Day resulting in a $50,000 donation to Paradox.
The North Face remains committed to inspiring all people to join the sport of climbing.