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.
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 As a result, the proposal was rescinded and SWPACC established a positive working relationship with the State Game Commission.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 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/.
Our Board of Directors
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.
Alex has been a part of the Pittsburgh climbing community for over 15 years, beginning as a climber and staff member at The Climbing Wall and then as a founder of ASCEND. Providing access – of all forms – to climbing is his goal, and he is very happy to be working to help make an impact locally and regionally through SWPACC.
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.
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.
gINETTE wALKER vINSKI
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.
Vincent moved to Pittsburgh for college in 2005 and never got around to leaving; they started bouldering at The Climbing Wall in 2012 and was eventually coaxed into outdoor cragging with the CMU Explorer’s Club. For Vincent, climbing is equal parts self-discovery and strengthening community, and they’re stoked to help bring more people into this experience.