In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, BACC is spotlighting inspiring Bay Area community members dedicated to fostering safe and inclusive climbing environments.
Last week, we spoke with BACC volunteer Vanessa Vun to discuss her climbing journey and work building an inclusive climbing community with LADY CRVSH CREW.
Vanessa began climbing seven years ago at Dogpatch boulders in San Francisco. “I had first been introduced to bouldering back in college,” Vanessa said. “I remember having fun, but I was discouraged by someone. They wanted me to get stronger, but I just didn’t feel strong, so I stopped going. It felt like a prerequisite to climbing, but in fact, it wasn’t.” Even still, Vanessa went back to climbing later in life and fell in love with the sport.
Now an avid climber, Vanessa splits her time between climbing in the gym, the crag, and fostering stewardship and community through her volunteer work with LADY CRVSH CREW and the Bay Area Climbers Coalition (BACC).
LADY CRVSH CREW —with the “V” referring to the bouldering V grade scale—aims to bring ladies (trans and cis), non-binary, and friends together through meetups, crag cleanups, and stewardship. Founded in 2018 by Sabrina Padua, the group has grown from a small Bay Area community to hosting meetups across the United States.
The meetups began organically at Dogpatch Boulders, Vanessa explained. “Their mission was just to gather and meet with other ladies, crush together, and enjoy the sport of climbing with a lot of encouragement and no judgment,” she said. As the crew developed, the lady crushers started a social media page to encourage more community members to join. “I was intrigued by the LADY CRVSH CREW through Instagram. I was also a climber at Dogpatch, so I happened to go to one of their meetups,” Vanessa said. “It was just fun hanging out with the crew. I felt accepted, and I really liked the vibe.”
Vanessa began volunteering with the crew in 2019, serving as a LADY CRVSH CREW leader. “My original role was to be a leader and to host the meetups. I even planned events and did all kinds of giveaways,” Vanessa said.
Four years later, she is still involved with the crew but more from “behind the scenes,” she explained. Vanessa now works on maintaining and evolving the LADY CRVSH CREW website to accommodate the group’s rapid growth.
Since its start, the group has grown from informal meetups in Northern and Southern California to hosting organized events at local gyms and crags in 12 states across the county.
Despite the growth, the group’s mission has remained unchanged: “The point of LADY CRVSH CREW is just to hang out. The vibe is hanging out with a bunch of friends,” Vanessa said. “It’s open for everyone. But the point is to have a safe environment and a place for encouragement and no judgment.”
On top of her work with Lady Crush Crew, fostering community, attending crag cleanups, and preaching good stewardship, Vanessa wanted to do even more to help protect outdoor spaces. “I wanted to be in a role where I can show how we can be good stewards of our bouldering environment,” Vanessa said. She began volunteering with the Bay Area Climbers coalition as a community ambassador in 2021, traveling to bay area gyms and crags to educate climbers on how to protect our climbing environments.
Vanessa now serves as BACC’s Website Manager, helping amplify the coalition’s message. “It’s important for all of us to do our part in taking care of the environment.” Vanessa urges. “We are going on to lands that have been stolen. If we can show that we take care of the land and respect our environment, we can continue to be allowed to recreate on these lands.”
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