Sam

Ortiz

CLIMBING

Born and raised in Kentucky, Sam didn’t get her start in the outdoors until she moved thousands of miles away into the heart of the wilderness: Alaska. Just down the street from her house was the trailhead to Mt. Juneau, and after her first hike, the rest is history.

Washington state is where Sam says she really found her footing in the outdoors. She learned how to climb through the nonprofit Mountaineers, where she has helped to teach climbing courses. While she loved climbing, she didn’t love feeling like she didn't see anyone else who looked like her at the crag or the climbing gym. That feeling is what motivated her to devote her free time to expanding access to the outdoors through intentional events, partnerships, and advocacy.

Most recently, Sam’s fallen in love with gardening. She’s watched hours of webinars from the University of Washington’s Botanical Gardens, learned all about native plant species of Washington State, and been studying month-by-month gardening books. You can find her in her garden – outside of course – all year long.

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Photography

One of Sam’s favorite things about the outdoors is capturing people on camera. She uses photography as a tool to share her journey outside and encourage others along the way, using colors, scenery, and big landscapes to inspire adventure.

“Photography was an integral part of me getting outside,” she says. Stemming from years on her high school’s yearbook team, Sam now applies her degree in visual communications to her personal and professional life as a photographer and marketer.

 

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Passion Project

Sam founded Climb Big in 2019 to share the sport of climbing with people who looked like her. Sam was shocked at the number of new climbers who started attending her meetups – there were a lot more people interested than she expected. The only problem? Existing climbing gear was not built for people in plus size bodies. “Making outdoor gear more accessible makes such a difference for people who are plus sized,” Sam explains. “How can you even do a sport if the gear doesn’t exist?” 
 
Applying her passion and personal experiences from Climb Big to the Outdoor Research product development and design team, Sam helped launch our first range of technical outdoor plus size clothing. Her expertise has directly shaped the way we fit, prototyped, and tested this gear. Thank you, Sam, for your impact.  Megan is passionate about fostering a community for plus size people in the outdoor space. She wants people to know that you don’t have to change your body to enjoy the outdoors. “Introducing people to climbing, both in person and online, has brought me so much joy and validation,” she says. “I love getting messages from people saying they tried climbing for the first time because of a post of mine they saw. When we do intro to climbing classes in person it’s so wonderful to see someone shift from thinking they can't do it to truly having a blast on the climbing wall.” 

Sam's Favorites


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