About Earth Treks
Climbing and community go hand in hand
A climbing gym is the perfect place to build a community. As the Earth Treks community has grown, we’ve been able to bring the mountains to more people and have a bigger impact on the world.
Gym giving program
We are thrilled to announce the launch of our giving fund that will support local and national projects that enable access to climbing and protect the environment. Many people don’t participate in climbing due to lack of awareness, access and resources. We believe engaging more people in climbing is key in creating supportive, kind and courageous communities that extend far beyond our walls. In addition, we strive to enhance the outdoor areas that make climbing special and are near and dear to our staff and members’ hearts.
Members of our team have served on committees, participated on boards and volunteered time. Our charitable priorities are driven by this formula: serving the greatest number of people, while targeting the causes we feel most passionate about. If the impact is greatest through service, we will sweat for the cause.
When the need is greater, we partner with national organizations that are extremely important to our community. They are the voice of climbers and our guide when it comes to safely exploring and protecting the outdoors on a national level. Key partners we are extremely proud of include: Access Fund, American Alpine Club, American Safe Climbing Association, Big City Mountaineers and Outward Bound.
Internally, one of the ways we foster a passion for climbing and the outdoors is by supporting staff adventures with the Earth Treks Avi Sengupta Climbing Scholarship. This scholarship honors the life and memory of beloved ET employee, Avishek “Avi” Sengupta. From a young age, Avi understood the incredible impact climbing can have, and shared his passion with everyone he met. We hope to continue to pass on that spirit to our staff, our communities and the world.
Oftentimes, our community simply needs a small boost for their silent auction or fundraiser. If you would like to request a donation of day passes, please contact us here.
We built our foundation on blood, sweat—and toilet paper.
Earth Treks was launched in 1990 by Chris Warner. He had just returned from climbing new routes on peaks in the Himalaya and wanted to share the power of climbing with as many people as he could. He emptied his bank account ($592), grabbed an old rope and a duffel bag full of gear and began the entrepreneurial adventure. With the help of friends (Earth Treks’ first guides), we dreamt of building not just a guide service but a community of climbers who pushed each other to be the very best people (and climbers) they could be.
Earth Treks started by taking people to the mountains. In the early 90’s we were guiding a few hundred customers on three continents. Sharing our passion for climbing was literally changing people’s lives. But it was when climbers figured out how to take the mountains to the people that things got really exciting. Trapped in a blizzard at 14,000 feet on Denali, Chris and a client worked on a business plan for a climbing gym.
The only paper they had was toilet paper, so they scribbled numbers on that. On the sixth day of the storm, the client made a deal: “get me off this mountain and I will lend you the money for a gym.” The next day the clouds parted and a year later we were building the Columbia, Maryland gym. That gym was opened in 1997. Today, there are seven Earth Treks Climbing and Fitness Centers, in three states. While we were building the gyms, Chris kept climbing. He was the 9th American to summit Everest and K2. He was the 1st American to solo an 8000 meter peak (a non-stop 34 hour ascent and descent of the South Face of Shisha Pangma). In total he has summited five of the 8000 meter peaks and more than one hundred peaks above 19,000 feet. He has lead over two hundred international expeditions, guided the first ever reality TV show on Everest and produced an Emmy nominated film of his K2 expedition for NBC.
After 25 years of leading mountaineering trips (the team guided over 250 international expeditions on five continents) Earth Treks shut down the international business to focus on growing a national chain of climbing gyms. But we will never lose the inspiration that the big mountains give us: it is in our DNA. We still believe that the secret to life is to climb, play and grow.