Who Are We?

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Climbers Coalition’s (SWPACC) mission is to promote the responsible development of climbing and bouldering in southwestern Pennsylvania, to disseminate information about development and conservation of the resource, and to gain and preserve access.

Our JEDI Commitment

SWPACC is committed to not only our own growth and development in the areas of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI), but to also foster those values in our community. Marginalized communities have historically been vastly underrepresented and we aim to hold space for those members to feel welcome.


SWPACC was officially established on December 1, 2014 after local climbers and friends recognized the need for such an organization in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The first action was taken in 2015 when SWPACC coordinated with other Pennsylvania local climbing organizations, the Access Fund, and numerous other user groups (hikers, runners, etc.) to express support for keeping State Gamelands open to non-hunters year round, in response to a proposal for significant closures. As a result, the proposal was rescinded and SWPACC established a positive working relationship with the State Game Commission.

Throughout the next few years, SWPACC took part in various climbing area revitalization projects including graffiti removal, hardware replacement, and trail cleanups. It also began disseminating information on climbing area access and routes and working more on fundraising and branding efforts.

On January 10, 2018, SWPACC officially became a Joint Member of the Access Fund as a Local Climbing Organization (LCO). As SWPACC began to take on larger projects and become a bigger part of the local climbing community, the need for increased organization and community involvement became a priority. As a result, in 2020, SWPACC revamped its bylaws and organizational practices, held its first election, and established working committees.

access fund logo



Access Fund Joint Member

United we are stronger. That’s why the Access Fund maintains deep partnerships with local climbing organizations (LCOs) across the country. When a local climbing access issue occurs, the first and best line of defense is almost always the local climbers who are familiar with the area and the issues. A critical piece of the Access Fund’s work is encouraging, organizing, and empowering local climbers to join together into local climbing organizations.

  • Today, the Access Fund works with more than 130 local climbing organizations across the country, and SWPACC is proudly one of them! To learn more about the Access Fund and our partnership, please visit https://www.accessfund.org/.

Become a Member



SWPACC Board of Directors



Ginette’s passion for climbing grew from her love for nature and being outdoors. The experiences of feeling the rock beneath her fingertips, the dance-like movement of ascending the route, and the occasional Type 2 fun keep her coming back for more. Ginette’s background includes co-directing the Explorers Club of Pittsburgh’s Rock Climbing and Mountaineering Schools and serving for ten years as the club’s Environmental Chair. She happily works to advance SWPACC’s mission and contribute to building a safe and inclusive community of climbers and non-climbers alike in Southwestern PA.


Vice President

Caleb has been an active member of the Pittsburgh climbing community since moving to Pittsburgh in 2018 and has assisted with the development of multiple climbing areas in the region. He currently co-chairs the Access and Stewardship committee is responsible for organizing many of SWPACC’s work days. Outside of SWPACC Caleb is also a regular volunteer for Ascend’s adaptive climbing program and affiliated with Climbers for Christ. He also loves taking beginner climbers outside and is a regular at McConnell’s Mill rigging top ropes for anyone to share. You’re just as likely to catch Caleb on the sharp end or hanging on a static rope taking pictures.

Bio pic of Eliza



Eliza was introduced to outdoor climbing 12+ years ago while attending school in Colorado; since then climbing has become her favorite passion! Moving to Southwestern PA in 2016, Eliza had no idea what outdoor climbing, if any, was available locally. As she expanded her climbing community and knowledge of local areas, she was introduced to SWPACC. Eliza is excited to join the board to support efforts to expand and sustain access to local outdoor climbing as well as the growth of the climbing community. Along with climbing, Eliza enjoys paddleboarding, hiking, and adventuring with her husband and their dog.



Layered by divergent business, community, and educational experience, DJ is a trusted steward and advocate for climbing.  DJ serves to protect and expand assets and finances entrusted to SWPACC. He is dedicated to accomplishing SWPACC’s goals and brings insight often necessary for responsible access, conservation and development of land.  So yeah, he likes rocks.


Board Member

Having climbed extensively in SWPA, Joel enjoys snaking any projects that the real developers of new areas just didn’t get around to yet. Reticent to draw attention to himself, he arrives discreetly at most crags hauling four young screaming children and a banjo. He believes that talking and listening–really listening–to one another is the foundation for tackling the issues important to our regional climbing community, and he doesn’t really want to hear what you have to say about that.


Board Member

Paul began climbing in 2007 and was immediately hooked. An intense hobby fostered by being a gym rat, local clubs, adventurous trips, and close mentors ultimately led to a shared dream of opening ASCEND Climbing, as well as being a founding board member of SWPACC. Climbing continues to provide him with confidence, strength, countless friendships, and now his family’s livelihood. Paul also spends his free time running, practicing yoga, loving his quirky cat, and traveling to experience live music with his hilarious wife and fun-loving friends.



Lauren’s been climbing nearly 20 years. After her sister took her to the Gunks when she was 15, she was always looking for opportunities to climb, and periodically found them in Central and Southwestern PA crags. It was soon after she moved to Pittsburgh for good (about 10 years ago) that she really got into climbing though. And it’s safe to say that it’s had a bigger impact on her life than any other endeavor. It’s how she met her husband. It’s how she met many of her closest friends. It’s a special lens through which she’s gone on to explore the country. And it’s something she’s continued to enjoy locally, since bringing a little climber into the world a year and a half ago. Her desire on the board is to help grow our climbing community and be a part of making climbing more accessible and welcoming. Our local crags are important places; and in caring for these important places she hopes to help bring people together to appreciate the gems that we have in our own backyard.


Board Member

Mike has been a passionate SWPA climber for almost 30 years now. He was the driving force behind the revitalization of The Lost Crag, and over the years, he has rallied scores of climbers throughout the tri-state to become more dedicated stewards of our local climbing resources. As the founder of The Pittsburgh Public Schools Climbing Club in the mid-90s, Mike has partnered with stakeholders in the community to expose countless city kids to an activity from which they have traditionally been excluded. Presently, Mike is deep in collaboration with city leaders to turn the Climb Pittsburgh dream into a reality for all.


Board Member

Marcus is the President & CEO of The Outdoor Inclusion Coalition, founding the organization to introduce and sustain curiosity in outdoor exploration for underrepresented community members in urban settings. One can find Marcus connecting multigenerational community members to front and backcountry experiences, collaborating at a state level to create sustainable outdoor jobs, and empowering community members to envision and create the outdoor spaces they hope to see. His background includes time managing outdoor industry tradeshows, guide, and instructional services from backpacking to winter sports, and community development and planning in the recreational play space sector. Residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Marcus enjoys road trips, climbing, camping, mountain biking, and skiing.


Board Member

Mak has had an affinity for nature their entire life and becoming a climber has only strengthened that love. Climbing is a way that Mak explores the world around them, their relationships with others, and their own body. Excited to have the opportunity to give back to the community, Mak wants to continue the work of previous board members and make climbing accessible to folks who have been historically shut out of the sport – so folks can enjoy the activity of climbing as well as foster their connection with adventure and nature! Even after climbing around the US and in Mexico, some of Mak’s favorite climbing spots are here in Pittsburgh’s backyard! When they are not climbing, running, or biking, Mak is mostly likely working on design projects, painting, or writing.


Board Member

Valerie has been climbing for over 25 years and is grateful to all those who have developed climbing areas, written guidebooks and taught and guided new climbers – She has been the lucky recipient of their work! Valerie would like to contribute to developing and support the outdoor climbing community and resources in Southwestern PA. She has been a long time supporter of the Access Fund and their work and have appreciated their efforts in many climbing areas in the US. Valerie has a broad business background and would be happy to apply it to supporting SWPACC.