"I’m a Chicano climber originally from Chicago, Illinois, with family roots in Michoacán and Guadalajara, Mexico. I found love for the outdoors not through recreation, but through community. The flatlands of the Midwest encouraged me to seek a relationship with nature via a relationship with others. It was not until college that I found the outdoor sports we all know and love."

Black Diamond Presents: Bravo—Fostering Conexión Through Climbing with Xavier Bravo
Video: Bree Robles

With a newfound passion for life, I pursued a career guiding throughout the West until settling in Boulder, Colorado, where I now work for the American Alpine Club as their Event Coordinator. While I love guiding and all the wonderful places it has taken me, I craved a community to share the memories with—particularly my Latine community. After receiving my Single Pitch Instructor certification through the AMGA’s BIPOC affinity program sponsored by Black Diamond, I set out to bridge the climbing gap I noticed in my community. While the Latine & Hispanic community comprises ~20% of the U.S. population, less than 8% identify as climbers, meaning close to 1 million Latine folxs either have never been exposed to the sport or do not have regular access to climbing.

Black Diamond ambassador Xavier Bravo rock climbing in the Rocklock Climbing pants with a scenic canyon in the background.

In November of 2022, I created Escala, an affinity group dedicated to fostering conexión for all self-identifying Latine/x & Hispanic individuals through a shared passion of cultura, comunidad y climbing. Throughout my climbing career, I have encountered all sorts of Latine climbers; those that are beginning their climbing journey & those that are sponsored professionals. Those whose families immigrated here, and those that are the “nth” generation. Those whose first language is Spanish and those that are still actively learning their mother tongue. My hope is that by bringing this community together, collectively we can increase visibilidadrepresentación y accesibilidad for all escaladores. 

After half a year, Escala has grown to service 2 states, 4 cities, 8 gyms, and over 500 individual Latine folxs with 2,000+ hours of guiding, instruction, & mentorship. Escala hosts regular gym meet-ups as well as outdoor clinics and retreats, encouraging folxs from the Hispanic community to grow a passion and connection with their environment and empower them to combat policies negatively affecting their public lands while simultaneously creating opportunities for Latine/x individuals to connect, feel comfortable and safe, and climb in spaces they have traditionally been excluded from. While a simple meetup group now, I dream of Escala to become un movimiento that brands, companies, and others recognize as spaces and opportunities that need to be created, regardless of Escala’s facilitation.

 —Xavier Bravo

Escala was co-founded by Melissa Rojas and Xavier Bravo from two organizations with a shared mission of making climbing accessible to Hispanic and Latine people. ¡Escala!, based out of Washington, DC, was founded by Melissa Rojas in 2021, and Escaladores Unidos, based out of Colorado, was founded by Xavier Bravo in 2022. In 2023, Melissa and Xavier decided to join forces to be stronger unidos, and the two organizations became Escala. They believed that working as one organization would allow them to more sustainably continue creating accessibility, expanding representation, and increasing visibility in climbing for Hispanic and Latine individuals across the nation.

You can read more about Escala’s work by visiting their websiteFacebook, or Instagram. With a volunteer team of less than 15 individuals, Escala primarily relies on donations to continue its program. Support their work by donating here or buying some merch.