Rock Solid: Breaking Barriers with FOL Ambassador Emmeline Wang
Grounded but Ever Ascending, Emmeline Wang Takes Life On-Sight
Emmeline Wang is a Fremont, CA native and currently resides in Utah. An avid athlete and outdoor enthusiast since childhood, she’s played sports her entire life. During her time at Menlo College, where she received a full academic/athletic scholarship, Emmeline played softball and ran cross country. While she is no stranger to plotting her own route in life and on the wall, learn how Emmeline is breaking new ground as she ascends above traditional tropes of race and gender in the outdoor industry and how she has discovered CBD, and made it an essential part of her climbing routine.
FOL: Thanks much for joining us, Emmeline. We’ve been following your incredible climbing photos. It seems like the perfect socially distanced sport. Tell us how you got into climbing?
Emmeline: After graduating college, I was soul searching for a sport to dedicate myself to, as in college, my life revolved around sports and school. About 3 years ago, I went with a friend to the climbing gym and from there, I was HOOKED! I immediately signed up for a membership at my home gym in Fremont, and spent most of my evenings there after work. Climbing is an incredible sport, and I think most would agree that you begin to see that it’s a lifestyle more than just a sport once getting outside to climb. Climbing has provided me with awesome friendships, and has helped me realize that living a life with less material possessions is actually a life filled with much more. Since I’ve started climbing, I’ve also adapted to eating about 90% plant-based for health reasons, and ultimately environmental reasons. I’d have to say that my favorite aspect of climbing is the way it helps me intimately connect with nature. When I’m on the wall and suspended off the ground, every part of my being is living in the present moment, and it’s the one activity that brings peace into my life.
FOL: On the surface one could easily assume that rock climbing is a predominately white, male sport. But that’s not the case is it? Have you encountered or had to overcome any barriers as an Asian American female?
Emmeline: Gender and race is something I’ve understood about myself while being involved in a sport that has historically been dominated by cis-white men. If you take a look at any major climbing publication or company (it is starting to slowly change, but still so far to go), it’s easy to spot who’s being highlighted.. cis white men. I’ve tried to focus on feeling included based on my skill sets and not by my gender or race. However, I’ve come to realize that the community I’ve surrounded myself with happens to be those who embrace me for who I am and we support each other on and off the wall. I was very lucky to grow up in a community that was predominantly Asian as well. My mom put me in sports very early on and because of playing softball for the majority of my childhood throughout college, I had a good mix and balance of interactions and friendships with those of other races as well. Kindness and loving others was a value that my mom drilled constantly, so seeing others as humans and assessing their character vs. their race was a tool that helped me navigate my friendships.
FOL: As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, how do you see the outdoor industry changing in terms of acceptance and awareness when it comes to embracing athletes from all backgrounds? Do you see yourself as a role model for those who want to get into climbing but don’t feel like they’re currently represented?
Emmeline: Being in the outdoors in and of itself is not as inclusive as I’d like to see, and there is still so much work to be done to address and bring change so that everyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, size, creed, etc. can have the opportunity to experience the outdoors. It is exciting to see that outdoor brands are tasked with examining their previous practices of simply including individuals who are white and fit the status quo and figuring out how, as corporations, they want to be seen as a brand by opening up their athlete teams to BIPOC athletes. As a whole, larger reform and increasing overall equity to those of minority groups are crucial to actually making the outdoors inclusive.
I feel very fortunate that when I came out to my mom and friends, they were my biggest support systems, and I could fully express and explore who I was. Not everyone has that privilege, so I know that is something to not take lightly. If anyone is looking to be a part of a community, my passion is to foster and build a safe space where everyone’s voice is important, and can feel like they can be themselves (I climb at The Front, come say hi!).
FOL: We know you picked up a new Floyd’s cycling kit recently, tell us how your new foray into cycling came about?
Emmeline: I started to take up cycling during COVID-19 as I found it as a means to keep my body moving while recovering from climbing days, while still being able to enjoy the serene settings of nature. So far, I’ve definitely witnessed the benefits of finding a sport that I can utilize for recovery days, and also connect with the outdoors. It’s certainly a different kind of type 2 fun, but I’m digging it!
FOL: And when did you first start using CBD?
Emmeline: I first started using CBD about 3 years ago, specifically to address body recovery.
FOL: What are you using on the wall and on the bike?
Emmeline: My favorite CBD products I rave about are the Hydration Fuel, Warming Balm, and the Gems! The Hydration Fuel does so many wonders, and it’s helped keep me hydrated and relaxed while climbing in the heat. The Warming Balm is great for pre and post workouts when my sore muscles need some loving. And the Gems are great if I need CBD on the go. I truly love pretty much all of Floyd’s of Leadville products, but since I’m forced to choose, these three would be it.
FOL: While we may be comfortable bombing down a hill at 50mph, we get the heebeegeebees when we’re dangling from a rope a few hundred feet off the ground, but that’s just a walk in the park for you. Tell us about your most terrifying climbing experience.
Emmeline: Ahhh, I would have to say my scariest climbing experience would have to be this time I was on a multi-pitch sport climb in Oregon. It was getting late, and pretty much pitch black outside, and on the rappel, our rope got snagged behind a rock. My climbing partner decided that he had to free solo that pitch (granted, it was only 25 feet of 5.9 climbing, but it was incredibly exposed) to retrieve the other end. Luckily, everything panned out okay, and we were able to rappel off the route with no issues after that, but I’d say that was the most intense climbing experience I’ve experienced so far.
Thanks so much for joining us today Emmeline. We love checking out your awe inspiring climbing pictures. And, for those of you who aren’t terrified of heights and are interested in learning the ropes or following along with the adventures of Emmeline and her partner Joanne, you can check them out on Instagram @emmelinewang.