Sam Ortiz is a plus size, Latinx, rock climber, mountaineer, and founder of Climb Big.


Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Sam Ortiz (she/her) is a plus size, Latinx, rock climber, mountaineer, and adventure photographer based in WA state. Sam is the founder of Climb Big, a group she started to make climbing more accessible to fat folx after struggling to find a place in the outdoors, herself.


Sam hosts meet-ups with other female and non-binary plus size folx to offer a safer space to share her outdoor skills and discuss tips on finding gear for plus size bodies.


Sam has done plus size modelling for outdoor brands like REI, Eddie Bauer, and Alder Apparel.


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  • Who is Sam and where she is based

  • Growing up in Kentucky

  • Growing up with 2 older sisters

  • Growing up near the Red River Gorge

  • Not feeling welcome in the outdoors

  • Finding her footing in the outdoor world

  • Not seeing people who looked like her

  • Her dreams as a little girl

  • Getting into photography through high school

  • Being drawn to the outdoors

  • Trying to figure out her place in the outdoor

  • Applying for AmeriCorps

  • Going to Juneau, Alaska

  • Being surrounded by nature

  • Giving herself permission to be person she thought she could be

  • Proving to herself that she could do hard things

  • Deciding to try and climb the mountain

  • Being ok with failing and knowing that she can come back and try again

  • How her journey in rock climbing started

  • The importance of having fun

  • Deciding to sign up to the AmeriCorps program

  • Graduating college and knowing what she didn’t want to do

  • Signing an 11 month contract

  • Climbing her first mountain and what it meant

  • The next step in her journey

  • Moving to Washington State

  • Choosing to do another year of AmeriCorps

  • Her love affair with the outdoors

  • Lessons learned from the outdoors that have been applied to everyday life

  • Learning and developing new skills for the outdoors

  • The power of having a mentor

  • The Mountaineers

  • Being an Ambassador for Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women

  • Fat Girls Hiking

  • Starting to host meet ups for Climb Big

  • The issues with gear for plus size/fat climbers

  • Wanting to show other women that their body is capable

  • Breaking down the barriers for fat and plus-sized people in getting outside

  • Bennett Rahn - @bennettrahn

  • Dr Meghan Banker @pdxoutdoorchiro

  • Dreams and goals for Climb Big

  • Being inspired by Mirna Valerio - @themirnavator

  • Jenny Bruso - white queer fat femme writer & hiker taking body liberation outdoors. @jennybruso

  • Unlikely Hikers - A diverse outdoor community, hiking group & podcast for the underrepresented hiker @unlikelyhikers

  • Asking companies for gear that they are not making

  • Creating a Climb Big Community on Facebook

  • Final words of advice from Sam

“You are allowed to take up space, you are allowed to go at your own pace, you are allowed to do something and to really make it your own, even if you don’t see anyone else who looks like you doing it. That there is such beauty in deciding that you want to do something and going after it. And you are allowed to do that, you are allowed to try, and you are allowed to fail while you do it as well. You don’t always have to succeed and that’s ok. You’re allowed to fail and to try again, and try again. And it doesn't mean that you, aren’t good enough and you are not worthy, it just means you are a beginner and it’s ok to be a beginner, so you are allowed to fail.”

Social Media

Find Sam on Instagram @SamOrtizPhoto

At Climb Big, we’re interested in making rock climbing and the outdoors more accessible to fat folx.

The barriers for plus size adventurers are huge, including a lack of representation and access, not to mention an incredibly limited selection of the gear and clothing that are necessary for safety in the outdoors.

Climb Big Website - www.climbbig.org

Find Climb Big on Instagram @Climb.Big

Join the Climb Big Community group on Facebook www.facebook.com/groups/climbbig

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