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SONYA
WILSON

One Outside Guide

SONYA
WILSON

One Outside Guide

Growing up in Nevada, Deaf climber Sonya Wilson turned to the outdoors as a judgment-free zone, scrambling on top of rocks and the roof of her home to find solace and acceptance. Today, she can still be found climbing, but those rocks have gotten bigger, and so has her community of fellow Deaf climbers. In 2012, Sonya founded the ASL Climbing Network, a community of American Sign Language (ASL) climbers around the world. Now based in Los Angeles, Sonya organizes monthly meetups in the gym, at the local crag, and Joshua Tree National Park for her community. Friends, old and new, connect about the latest problems they’re encountering on and off the wall. She has spent years advocating for the sport—and the outdoors as a whole—to become more accessible to her community.

Sonya’s work is deeply rooted in the lived experience of being a Deaf climber. “The outdoors doesn’t need you to have hearing or even a voice to connect with it,” Sonya says. Sonya redefines what it means to be a climber in an industry dominated by hearing people. “Climbing is a way for myself and others who are Deaf to challenge our bodies, minds, and ultimately find peace.”

Sonya is an ASL teacher at a school in Los Angeles. On top of teaching, advocacy work, and rock climbing, Sonya also spends her time alpine climbing and enjoying other outdoor adventures. Sonya is the central figure of the Eddie Bauer-sponsored film “Elevated,” which made its debut at the Mountainfilm Festival in 2022.