© Irene Yee

Irene Yee's photographs of rock climbers are amazing.

May 26, 2017

If you close your eyes and think of an avid rock climber, you probably have a distinct image in your head.

Many people see rock climbers as elite athletes who can scale dizzying heights. They’re people who can climb hard, reach epic summits and have no fear when it comes to their undoubtedly dangerous sport.

Irene Yee, or @ladylockoff as she’s known on Instagram, wants to break that stereotype, because for Yee, rock climbing is for anyone.

Yee told magazine Outside: “Climbing teaches you who you are, including acceptance of your situation. Sometimes we’re sitting on ropes thinking about the next move or just giving ourselves a break. It’s my job to show those things, because that’s what happens. We just don’t often see it in social media or magazines.”

 © Irene Yee

By day, Yee is a carpenter for Cirque du Soleil. But on the weekends, she heads to Red Rocks, just outside her home in Las Vegas, to photograph herself and her fellow climbers as they practice their favorite hobby. Her photographs mostly showcase female amateur climbers.

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Yee likes to highlight how diverse the sport of climbing really is. On her Instagram, her some 33,000 followers can see climbers of various ages and skill levels scaling all kinds of challenging heights. Yee’s photographs are candid as well, capturing not only successes, but also mishaps, fear and determination.

 © Irene Yee

According to Outside, Yee’s favorite shots are the ones in which the viewer can tell the climber is conquering their fear.

 © Irene Yee

For the longest time, Yee, with her bright red hair, bright clothing and outspoken demeanor, thought she would never be a climber. It wasn’t until she saw images of pro-climber Sasha DiGiulian that Yee became convinced.

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“I thought: You can be girly and still rock climb? I realized that just because I didn’t fit into the mainstream perception of what climbing is, that didn’t mean I couldn’t be a climber,” she told Outside.

 © Irene Yee

Yee hopes that her photos will empower women especially.

“Social media is an incredibly powerful platform for telling us that this thing we thought was true is not true at all,” she said.

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