Written by Faren Rajkumar
We chatted with fearless Vegas-based climber Julie Tsai (@theclimbingjuju on IG) about her climbing journey, how she respectfully explores & shares in outdoor recreation, and her excitement about increased minority representation in the outdoors!
1. Tell us about your journey, and how you discovered climbing!
“I am a Las Vegas native that went off to LA to study fashion design/manufacturing after high school. During my time in LA, I decided that I need new hobbies because I just got out of a long-term relationship. I was trying pottery throwing and anything to keep myself busy since I was newly single.
One day, I decided to check out a climbing gym called Cliffs of ID to see what climbing was all about. I went in literally with no idea what to expect. I didn’t even know what the word belay meant! After I took their belay class, I wanted to climb more but they told me that I needed a partner to climb ropes. So they blasted my name on the intercom saying “Julie needs a TR partner. Please come to the front if you need a partner!”
Moments later, Mark Fiji (@mark9fiji) comes up to me and says he’ll be my TR partner. Little did I know that he was going to be my mentor, best friend, and forever climbing partner.”
2. How do you commit to minimizing your negative impact on the Earth as an outdoorswoman?
“PACK IT IN. PACK IT OUT. REUSE. RECYCLE.
I am still learning a lot on how to minimize my negative impact on the earth. I feel that there are always ways to improve on it. I recently learned from my friend Gerry (@dekarabaw) to bring a little bag to pick up trash wherever I am when I am outdoors, especially at the popular crags. It’s pretty shocking to see how much trash you can pick up.”
3. How do you feel about the movement to increase diverse representation in the outdoors?
“I’m tremendously inspired by the movement to increase diverse representation in the outdoors. It also gives awareness to everyone about how the outdoor industry as a whole has an extreme diversity problem. It baffles me that the BIPOC community accounts for about 40% of the US population, while around 70% of people who visit national forests and national parks are usually white.”
4. Anything else you want to share with the community?
“I believe the outdoor community can do a lot better with educating themselves and others on the principles of Leave No Trace. There has been a huge uptick in visitors at the national parks and a lot of these visitors are not making responsible decisions for minimizing their impact on the environment.
The same goes for climbers. There have been too many of us leaving toilet paper, getting off-trail, or just leaving trash at the crag. This is just going to degrade our beloved areas and we will eventually lose access to these crags. WE MUST DO BETTER!”