Central Kentucky Climbing: Interview with Cat Runner and Blake Nantz

by Bethany Robinson

The later days of spring have arrived, and we are on the precipice of hot summer days with that itch to engross ourselves in the beauty of nature.  Many opportunities exist to get out in the beautiful world of Kentucky outdoors, with exciting opportunities of climbing popping up within central Kentucky.

With the recent popularity of climbing, including the intrigue and local pride of the recent win of Louisville native Cat Runner (Instagram @catlikeacat) on HBO’s competitive series The Climb many locals have been creating inclusive spaces to explore this activity.  

I recently spoke with Cat Runner and Blake Nantz (Instagram @blknntz) about their recent works in the climbing world.  

Cat informed me of the upcoming Pride on the Rocks Event June 14th, 2023, at Climb Nulu.  Part pride party, part fundraiser, this event is aimed to help generate funds and attention to the Queer Climber’s Network (Instagram @queerclimbersnetwork).  The Queer Climber’s Network has a focus on connecting queer climbers to one another as well as creating an inclusive space for individuals within this community.  The page also includes many local meetups for individuals affiliated within this network.  For those interested in additional climbing activities, there are two indoor meetups each month at Climb Nulu (Instagram @climbnulu) that are on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday from 6-8pm.  Finally, Cat discussed the ongoing efforts of climbing events including the event at Red River Gorge in partnership with Yoga for Climbers (Instagram @Yoga.For.Climbers) in which they coordinate transportation, accommodations, communication, and equipment.    

Blake informed me that he works with Belong Outdoors (Instagram @BelongingOutdoors), a social club centered around outdoor recreation for members of the LGBTQIA+ community as well as allies. He stated, “the goal of the club is to create a welcoming environment for people that want to get outside and promote the idea that anyone can be ‘outdoorsy.’” The sense of community is strong with this group as “on a social hike, no hiker will be left behind. The group will travel together and accommodate any pace for any level of hikes.”  As previously stated, this inclusionary environment is for anyone that maybe already has a “good grip” of hiking but also may be new to the experience and are invested in learning more to help them elevate their skills.  Blake stated he started this group “because I struggled to find a community of people that like to be outdoors. I usually go hiking alone during the summer so I thought it would be a great idea to invite people and see if anyone wanted to join. I want to share my love of the outdoors and create an inclusive community where anyone can come hike and be in nature.”  The group has an upcoming event on June 25th!