ASCEND Erie Launches Affinity Sessions to Improve Access and Inclusivity

On March 9, ASCEND Erie hosted its first Affinity Session, inviting anyone who identifies as Queer, Femme, Trans, or as a Woman to visit the gym and climb for free. More than 20 members of Erie's QFTW community took to the walls, nearly one-third of whom were first-time visitors.

ASCEND Erie will host Affinity Sessions on the second Saturday of each month from 6-8 p.m., closing the gym for these special events. Each month will alternate between two affinity groups: QFTW and BIPOC. The first BIPOC Affinity Session at ASCEND Erie will take place April 13.

Admission is free and pre-registration is possible but not required for these events, but anyone interested in visiting the gym is encouraged to fill out a waiver ahead of time. Climbers of all skill levels and experience (especially those with no experience whatsoever!) are invited to attend and can be assisted by ASCEND's staff, though climbing is not required in order to attend. Each session generally features a free raffle with a chance to win some cool prizes.

ASCEND's Affinity Sessions are dedicated to individuals who haven't always had equal access to or treatment within the sport. It's a space dedicated to intentional inclusivity, not exclusivity. With that said, these free climbing sessions are intended only for those in the community who identify with these affinity groups. ASCEND Erie will be launching clubs soon - check out their Women on Walls, Queer Scouts or Many Cultures 1 Route clubs - that invite members of those groups as well as allies to attend.

To learn more about Affinity Sessions, clubs at ASCEND Erie, or any other programs going on at the gym, visit

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