Guide & Youth Programs Director
CERTIFICATIONS: AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, Wilderness First Responder
HOMETOWN: Adelberg, Germany & Coastal OR
CURRENT LOCATION: Portland, OR
HOW LONG HAVE YOU CLIMBED: 5 years
FAVORITE TOPIC TO TEACH: Climbing movement and effective technique!
WHY DO YOU CLIMB?: "To feel one with the natural world and fully whole inside my body."
WHAT'S YOUR GO-TO CRAG SNACK? : Albanese gummy worms! Also…burritos.
WHERE YOU LEARNED THE MOST: Indian Creek, Utah. This is sacred Indigenous land cherished by the Pueblo, Ute, and Navajo peoples.
A CLIMBING-RELATED ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE PROUD OF? : Sometimes, conversations with young climbers in programs I run reveal that something in my identity, instruction, or example has inspired them toward courage and passion to be more fully themselves. That is so wild and probably carries more weight than most “successful” personal climbing objectives. Onsighting 40 trad routes in 4 months for my SPI cert was pretty cool, too.
Rya has had unbelievable fortune in access to public lands and wild spaces (most of whom are on sacred ancestral Indigenous lands) out their back door all their life, and spent their formative years growing into an adventure sports athlete. They pursued a love of snowboarding, surfing, and mountain biking and chased progression and competition. Climbing in any committed capacity came to them just a handful of years ago after injuries and time phased out other sports a bit. It was initially entertained purely out of a need for distraction after coming out as queer and working through a divorce. A pal invited them to a climbing gym in Portland, OR and they were hooked immediately. They walked out that day with a membership, shoes and chalk bag, and their life was set on a new course that altered everything from their personal identity to their career.
They’ve processed trauma and grief while on the wall, gained an extraordinarily vibrant community through climbing which became their family, and the sport has even offered an emotional and social framework through which they’ve been able to understand and live into their core personhood as a transgender/non-binary human.
Rya has begun to develop a career as a youth climbing coach and rock guide with the intention of creating programming and infrastructure that allows underrepresented humans the opportunity to find their sense of belonging in nature the way they were able to growing up. Their long-term goals also include an IFMGA mountain guide certification, which they are actively pursuing. Their current self now dreams of--and is laboring toward--a future where queer and trans people are included and celebrated in sport, where kids are taught the value of their natural world and are led by adult example in how to protect and preserve it, and where justice and equity exist in tandem to see an outdoor community that truly flourishes because of the beautiful diversity of all the humans that call it home.