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Tiran Charles (l.) assists Ethan Glover with his climbing ropes at the CityROCK climbing gym during a Blackpackers event in Colorado Springs on March 25, 2023. Photos by Parker Seibold / Special to The Colorado Trust

On a Saturday evening in March, Djanne Smith tried rock climbing for the first time on a corner wall of CityROCK climbing gym in Colorado Springs.

“It’s harder than it looks!” she said, before trying again.

Smith drove down from Denver for this, despite a fear of heights, despite not knowing anyone here and despite a density of rock-climbing gyms closer to where she lives. She was here to join an excursion organized by Blackpackers, a Colorado nonprofit that works to expand access to outdoor recreation.  

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