In the world of rock climbing, there are individuals whose stories inspire and illuminate the true essence of the sport. Allan Alvarez, a dedicated climber, and BACC board advisor, exemplifies the transformative power of climbing. Through an insightful interview, we glimpse Allan’s climbing journey, his deep connection to the climbing community, and his commitment to promoting diversity and stewardship.
A decade ago, in the year 2013, Allan’s initiation into the world of climbing transpired under unique circumstances. A school project pitched by a female friend sought to explore sports that defied traditional gender roles. Climbing—with its reputation as a male-dominated activity—caught their attention. When Allan stepped into an introductory class, he was captivated by the interplay of physical and mental acuity demanded by climbing.
“[Rock climbing] is like a puzzle-solving, problem-solving activity. It allows me to engage my mind and body simultaneously, pushing me to overcome challenges and find solutions.” Overcoming his fear of heights became a personal goal for Allan, further fueling his interest in the sport.
Over the years, Allan has taken his love for climbing and the climbing community to new heights by volunteering his time to climbing affinity groups across the Bay, such as the Brown Ascenders, Queer Crush, and FilipinUp. Through these collaborations, he aims to strengthen the presence and voices of underrepresented climbers. Acknowledging the progress made in recent years, Allan recognizes the growth of climbing’s diversity and representation. “I actually do [think climbing has become more diverse], especially with these affinity groups popping up everywhere… I feel like we do see representation everywhere.” As he points out, the emergence of affinity groups like FilipinUp, ParaCliff Hangers, and Queer Crush provides platforms for climbers from underrepresented backgrounds to connect and offer mutual support. While pleased with the current pace of change, he still believes there is more to be done.
“I think we’re on the right path [towards climbing diversity and representation]. It’s just finding ways to bring more awareness to it.”
At the heart of Allan’s dedication to the climbing community lies his involvement with the Bay Area Climbers Coalition (BACC). Initially joining as a community ambassador, he dedicated himself to representing the organizations and advocating for access to outdoor climbing areas. As Allan explained, in his role as a community ambassador, he more or less functions as “the face” of BACC’s efforts and values.
“It’s about educating and persuading others to understand the importance of responsible climbing practices, all for the greater good and maintaining positive relationships with non-climbing communities.”
In his role, Allan educates and persuades others about the importance of responsible climbing practices and the greater good that climbers bring to the community. Allan emphasizes respecting the natural areas climbers explore. Stewardship, to him, is the key to preserving access and ensuring a positive relationship between climbers and the environment.
“Stewardship is important to me because it keeps that access open… It shows good faith to non-climbers that we are here, not just to mess things up, but to leave no trace and actually leave things better than they were.”
By actively participating in clean-up initiatives and engaging with neighbors and non-climbers, Allan is committed to maintaining access and fostering good faith within the community. He values the positive impact of organizations like BACC and takes pride in the collaborative efforts displayed by the board members and volunteers.
Allan’s climbing journey is a testament to personal growth, community engagement, and a profound appreciation for the privilege of accessing natural climbing areas. It serves as a reminder that rock climbing transcends mere ascents; it is a pursuit that invites us to build connections, nurture diversity, and leave a positive impact on the world around us.