Climbing professionals as climate ambassadors – is that possible?

Katherine Choong, one of the best sport climbers in Switzerland, and Nicolas Hojac, an extreme alpinist, depend on intact nature for their profession and their passion. At the same time, they are also part of man-made climate change. How can this dilemma be dealt with? As professional athletes, do you have a special responsibility towards the climate and the public? And how do you see your role as members of the POW Athlete Alliance?

Elin Kempf

A post by

Elin Kempf


As a prospective teacher, I spend most of my free time climbing, preferably outdoors on the rock. The topic of climate change concerns me every day and I think there should be more discussion about it.

For Katherine Choong and Nicolas Hojac it is clear that the effects of the climate change become more and more visible. Precisely because they spend a lot of time outdoors and in different terrains for their passion, they directly experience consequences such as falling rocks, melting glaciers and thawing permafrost.

Nicolas Hojac ice climbing 2
Nicolas Hojac: “The ice climbing season is getting shorter and shorter.” Picture: Thomas Senf / Red Bull Content Pool

For Nicolas Hojac, this means, among other things, that the ice climbing season is becoming shorter and that the risk in mountain sports is increasing. Katherine Choong also mentions climbing routes that are at risk from falling rocks and are no longer safe or simply no longer climbable. 

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Inspiring people to take action

Both are aware that they serve as role models. Katherine Choong uses social media to give her a voice. This allows her to reach out to her community and try to inspire people and encourage them to take action. But she is aware that she is not perfect. Nicolas Hojac thinks similarly.

It's not about pointing out what isn't good, but rather about getting people to take action. 

Nicolas Hojac
Katherine Choong reaches 134000 people on Instagram alone. She wants to use this community to inspire people and encourage them to take action. Image: Stefan Voitl / Red Bull Content Pool
Katherine Choong reaches 134000 people on Instagram alone. She wants to use this community to inspire people and encourage them to take action. Picture: Stefan Voitl / Red Bull Content Pool

This also explains the commitment of the two professionals to the Protect Our Winters Athlete Alliance. Both want to use their voice to reach the population and especially young people.

This involves, for example, disseminating voting campaigns or showing why it is important to vote. The following video provides an insight into the national vote on the climate protection law in June 2023.

Less consumption

In a personal context, it is important to both of them that they keep their ecological footprint as low as possible. But it's not about having to be perfect. Rather, they want to show that something can be achieved even with smaller actions.

Sometimes small actions are enough to bring about change. An example of this is taking part in important votes. Or that people generally try to consume less, such as flying, meat consumption, clothing.  

For Katherine Choong, sports associations also have a responsibility towards the climate. In relation to competition climbing, for example, this means that the competitions should be planned logically.

International competitions should take place in a sensible order and on the same continent so that athletes have to move to different locations as little as possible. 

Katherine Choong

As an individual, you don't have to be perfect

It is difficult to imagine what our world will look like in the future. It is difficult to remain optimistic about the rapid changes that climate change is causing. Nevertheless, both have hope that things will change for the better. Nicolas Hojac relies on technical progress, Katherine Choong on an active humanity. 

Mountain sports vs. climate change: Nicolas Hojac's expeditions take him to the Alps, but also to remote regions of the world. Picture: Renan Ozturk / Red Bull Content Pool

The dilemma of climate change and mountain sports cannot simply be solved. Nicolas Hojac and Katherine Choong are aware that they are also partly responsible. To be committed to the climate, a single person does not have to be perfect. Rather, it's about everyone trying to make a contribution and keeping their personal impact as low as possible. 

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Credits: Cover image Protect our Winters Switzerland

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