Black Ice: The Memphis Crew Changing The Face of Outdoor Climbing
Photo Credit: andresr | Getty Images

Photo Credit: andresr | Getty Images

Black Ice: The Memphis Crew Changing The Face of Outdoor Climbing

Memphis , United States , news
Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Dec 16, 2020

There’s a misconception that Black people don’t like the outdoors, often fueled by the lack of representation and marketing tailored to people of color.

Some researchers have called the absence of people of color in advertising a “visual apartheid” that has shaped the way communities of color view outdoor recreational activities.

But the lack of advertising is just one of the many challenges.

Costs present barriers as well. The starting price of a mountain bike, for example, is $600.  Rock climbing shoes and a harness?  That can cost about $300. And these costs don’t factor in supplies such as a good backpack, a tent, or a sleeping bag.

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The costs alone for some outdoor recreation activities make it hard for people to pick up and go, especially in a city like Memphis, where 25% of people live in poverty.  That number is even higher for Black residents.

It’s exactly why a group of Black climbers said “yes” to Reel Rocks Film in highlighting their outdoor adventure.   This group of climbers from Memphis Rox wanted to show the world what would happen when the barriers in advertising and financially are removed.

About Memphis Rox

Memphis Rox was created in 2018 by Memphis-native and Hollywood director Tom Shadyac.

The gym is unlike any other gym in the neighborhood because no one is ever turned away for their inability to pay. Instead, Shadyac gives people who don’t have the means full access to the gym in exchange for volunteering at the gym.

“We aren’t a climbing gym,” a statement reads on its website.  “We’re a family institution that uses climbing to bring people together, to foster community, and to create a culture of encouragement, empowerment, and accomplishment.”

And just like that,  Memphis Rox became a place where people enjoyed an opportunity only afforded to those in affluent communities.

Black Ice Film

Black Ice is a 35-minute film about the climbers from the Memphis Rox gym who traveled to Hyalite Canyon, Montana, to go ice climbing.

They are met with Black climber Manoah Ainuu and two others, who have a passion for winter climbing in the mountains.

Many climbers who train at Memphis Rox have never visited a mountain range, never traveled out of the city, and it was their first time on a plane.

But one thing the film highlights thanks to the Black climbers from Memphis Rox:  Black people love the outdoors, and it’s time for the outdoor recreational community to be inclusive for everyone.