Front Desk, Author at Sender One Climbing
Mental Health in Climbing: Keep Climbing

Mental Health in Climbing: Keep Climbing

the content

Written by Hailey McFelia, Edited by Katherine Ku

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month we, here at Sender One wanted to start a conversation about mental health in climbing. We all know working out is great for our overall moods and brain chemicals, but there seems to be something different about climbing. Let’s dive in to see what makes this sport so special.

Recent research studies have shown evidence that climbing can improve overall mood and even alleviate depression. A 2021 paper written by Schwarzkopf, Dorscht, Kraus,and Luttenberger suggests that  “bouldering-Psychotherapy (BPT) has proven to effectively reduce depressive symptoms,” which is further supported by research showing that climbing nourishes an increased sense of one’s capability.

Bouldering Psychotherapy combines physical activity with psychotherapeutic content and stems from the idea that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help with depression. Think of cognitive behavioral therapy as positive brain rewiring –now add that with the gains of a physical sport that also works on problem solving. It makes sense that you would see positive results and the ability to reflect on those results. 

“Research suggests that climbing is therapeutic. Multiple studies indicate that it can help reduce symptoms of depression, perhaps because it demands focused attention and mindfulness. Some practitioners even use climbing therapy in conjunction with traditional psychotherapy.”

More of this article here

Angela Haupt, Time Magazine

Community is another piece to this amazing activity that can make your brain happy. People do a lot of crazy things to be part of a community – climbers aren’t that crazy though. We just climb till our hands bleed, put our lives in other people’s hands (shout out to our belay partners!), and cheer for a stranger when the try hard is on. We put ourselves out there to help each other reach the top of our projects. Connection with others happens so naturally with rock climbing.

Climbers: Zsana Ramsey, Yuri Ohyabu, Bell Sarian Wong  |  Photographer: Alex DelVecchio

Personally, it’s what led me to meet so many climbers who have become my emotional support humans. One of them is my “partner in climb,” Raee Lorton. She and I both have our struggles with mental health and she was kind enough to open up and share her story.

“I started climbing in San Francisco when I was going through a hard time in my life. Climbing routes were something I could control. Something I could breathe through. Something I could do on my own without being entirely alone in a gym. When I moved back to LA climbing continued to save me. It gave me discipline and a love for something to get my body moving. Going through a diagnosis for your mental health and starting medicines is incredibly hard. You go through a lot of stress on your body and your mental health expands and collapses in on itself but climbing was something that allowed me to stop and focus on something other than what was going on in my life. I could see myself in a gentle light and see what I was capable of.”

-- Raee Lorton

Raee at Stoney Point | Photographer: Jovanna Reyes

The ability to be able to focus on a climb or problem, is a beautiful way to shift your focus. Head game and brain rewiring is an essential part of climbing. When it comes down to it many climbers have to overcome the fear of falling. That alone is a big part of the reflection that comes with rock climbing. We also tell ourselves positive mantras to help us push past our limits and in a way rewire our minds. For example, professional climber and slab lover Anna Hazelnutt tends to chant “I am sticky, I am sticky” (check out her Youtube channel here!) It’s the powerful insight we gain from turning in and reflecting in a positive light.

So why is climbing such an aid for mental health? Maybe it’s the satisfaction of solving a puzzle with your body? Perhaps it’s the personal growth that comes with climbing? For you it might be being part of a group of humans who are probably in the same boat as you? We all have those heavy days. Let’s do what we can to keep climbing, we want you to stick around, and we want to see you send!

If you are looking to become more involved with the rock climbing community consider joining us at one of our meetups or check out our affiliate groups.

Acknowledging the Land That We Are On

Acknowledging the Land That We Are On

the content

Written by Kadisha Aburub


If you’ve ever been to an affinity space meetup or event you’ll often hear a Land Acknowledgement at the start of a meetup. A Land Acknowledgment is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous People as traditional stewards of this land. Land Acknowledgements allow for an expression and appreciation of Indigenous people who have been living here since time immemorial. 

A core value in affinity spaces is understanding the history of the land we reside on. By acknowledging its history, we recognize the impact history has had on marginalized groups and begin dialogue on ways to narrow that gap within our community spaces. 

So then how do we go about delivering a Land Acknowledgement? 

  • Identify tribes 
  • Practice pronouncing the pronunciation of tribes
  • Acknowledge the tribes in the area you are in 
  • Acknowledge that tribes and its people are ever-present today

Here is an example of a Land Acknowledgement of the Garieleño/Kizh and Acjachemen land or what is now known today as the city of Santa Ana, California

“We open our meetup/event by acknowledging that the land where we climb today is the territory of the Gabrieleño/Kizh, and Acjachemen (Juaneno) tribes. In our daily lives, let us remember that the Santa Ana area is home to the Gabrieleño/Kizh, and Acjachemen (Juaneno) people and to many tribes that camped, hunted, and traded here for centuries. Native people of many Indigenous nations live here today.” 

“Kizh” (pronounced KEECH), the name of the tribe that resided on this land, comes from the dome-like dwellings they lived on. The people of Kizh developed ingenious ways of living off the land, were master boat-builders, and traveled along the coast of Southern California.

Check out Sender One's Land Acknowledgment on our Community Programs page. If you perhaps don’t live in the Santa Ana area and are interested in learning about the tribes and Indigenous people that resided on the land you’re currently on, is a great starting point.

Indigeneous territories of Southern California (Photo courtesy of Native Land Digital)

To note the website is imperfect and is meant as a starting point of your journey in educating yourself on the land you occupy. 

While these acknowledgements can be powerful they can also be easily taken as a token gesture. Going beyond a land acknowledgement is where the work lies. We all have a responsibility to consider what it means to acknowledge the repercussions of colonialism. 

Some action questions to consider: 

  • What are some of the privileges you enjoy because of colonialism? 
  • How can you develop relationships with Indigenous tribes/people in your area? 
  • How can you support/listen/uplift Indigenous tribes/people in your community?
  • Do you have an understanding of the on-going violence and trauma that affects Indigenous people? 

While we cannot undo the past, we can create better relationships through understanding, active participation with Indigenous communities, and having a listening ear. 

Interested in learning more? Here are further resources to explore:

  1. Native Land Community Blog
  2. Kizh Nation
  3. Gabrieleño -Kizh Tribal Territory
  4. Decolonizing Trauma Work by Renee Linklater

Decolonizing Trauma Work by Renee Linklater

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

the content

Written by Eric Ho, Edited by Katherine Ku


What Does AAPI Mean?

Why are there so many letters? Well, being Asian American and Pacific Islander are two different things. Asian Americans include East Asians, South Asians, and Southeast Asians. Pacific Islanders include native Hawaiian, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.

Our Asian Ascenders Meetups at Sender One LAX and Sender One SNA serve as a place for members and guests alike to climb together, and to discover themselves and connect with one another via culture and climbing. Some yummy Asian treats don’t hurt! Asian Ascenders meet monthly (every 2nd Tuesday at SNA, every 3rd Wednesday at LAX).

Sender One also employs many AAPI staff members in various departments, from route setting all the way to our CEO, Alice Kao (check out this Q&A with her). Let’s get to know our community leaders who lead the Asian Ascenders at LAX (every 2nd Wednesday of the month) as well as some of our staff from our Los Angeles Region!

Meet the Community Leaders

Ashley: LAX Asian Ascenders Meetup Leader

  • I have been climbing for 4 years and a friend who wanted to start a new hobby got me into it.
  • Other interests: Outside of climbing my passions are watching movies and reviewing books.
  • Go-to crag snacks: Almonds and Fairlife protein shakes.
  • Advice to new climbers: Don’t stress about what grade you’re climbing. Everyone is on their own journey and climbers are some of the most encouraging people I’ve met. Don’t be afraid to do climbs way out of your comfort zone. It’s a great way to improve and you might surprise yourself.
  • Why climb at Sender One? Sender One is a great place to climb with a strong sense of community. I’ve made so many friends here and am constantly surrounded by people that are always there to support me.

Brittany: LAX Asian Ascenders Meetup Leader

  • When I'm not climbing there is a very high chance that I'm reading a book, singing, or working out. I'm very passionate about those things as well.
  • Go-to crag snacks: Definitely almonds, dried mangos, and coconut chips. Simple and tasty.
  • Advice to new climbers: Don't compare yourself to climbers around you! No one is judging where you are in your climbing journey, so work on perfecting that V0 and don't be afraid to try climbs that you might not be able to send right away. You'll learn so much more that way!
  • What does it mean to host the monthly Asian Ascenders/AC2 meetups? I was lucky enough to get to guest host a few Asian Ascenders meetings after a wonderful, supportive family had already been established. It was empowering to be able to step in and lead an event dedicated to creating a safe space for people in my community to feel supported.

Meet the Staff!

Eric: LAX Brand Supervisor

  • I’ve been climbing for about 10 years. I got into it because I was looking for a social group and found a climbing group on that climbed at Hangar 18 South Bay. I ended up excelling at the sport because I was very light and skinny; also, because I started climbing 3 times a week.
  • Favorite crag: Red Rocks. The beautiful sand is very soft and gentle on my tips.
  • Go-to crag snacks: cucumber and hummus are very tasty on the lips
  • I started Asian Ascenders after my event, Mid-Autumn Festival was a resounding success. I had already started Send With Pride, so AA just made logical sense. I’m so proud to see the Asian Ascenders and my other meetups grow with new leaders stepping up to take the reigns.

Michelle: LAX Head Coach

  • I’ve been climbing for about 10 years! My husband went to Hangar 18 with a family friend, loved it, and then took me and some other friends to try it out.
  • Favorite Crag: My top three crags are Black Mountain, Bishop, and Squamish. I like all three for the same reason - although they’re popular destinations, I can still climb fun boulders with my friends in relatively isolated locations.
  • Other interests: Outside of climbing, I love running and strength training! Outside of physical activities, I enjoy interior design, fashion, and architecture.
  • Go-to crag snacks: GoMacro bars and peach rings
  • Advice to New Climbers: Have fun, and be patient! It’s tempting to climb 5 or more times a week because climbing is so fun, but that’s an easy way to get injured. Rest and recovery are key to a long and healthy climbing career.
  • Fun fact: I’m a first generation Filipino-American. I’ve never been to the Philippines, but I still have family there and I hope to visit sometime in the future!

Von: Westwood Gym Manager

  • I've been climbing since 2006 as a cheaper substitute for skydiving, a childhood dream of mine.  But when I finally ended up skydiving years later I realized why climbing is more exhilarating!
  • Favorite crag: Red Rocks. Climb gorgeous mountains that's easy on your skin during the day and eat fancy dinners and win a lot of money in Vegas at night.
  • Other interests: Being a fashion Icon. 
  • Go-to crag snacks: I like oranges and grapefruits. I really should eat more fruits but the only time I eat fruit is at the crag.
  • Advice to new climbers: The best day of climbing indoors is 1% the fun of the worst day of climbing outdoors.  Go outside ASAP.
  • Fun fact: I'm the 2007/2008 Yugioh Northwest Regional Champion.

Moe: Playa Vista Customer Experience Specialist

  • I started climbing with a friend during my sophomore year of college, so about five years ago. At first, my friend was very interested and just wanted a buddy, but once we got started, it ended up that I was the one who kept climbing after the semester! I started to make friends with some of the staff, invited my friends to come and climb with me, and enjoyed so much of the people at the gym and so much of the culture involving the types of people that climbing attracted.
  • Go-to crag snack: I love dried mango. I also love trail mix, but last year I just didn’t stop eating it, and so trail mix and I decided to give each other some time and space. Who knows, maybe we’ll start to enjoy each other’s company again soon...
  • Other interests: Outside of climbing, I am an artist. I weave, embroider, sew, knit, and also practice photography. I make some functional textiles like scarves, socks, hats, gloves, mittens, shawls, etc., and dysfunctional ones that are meant to go on a wall. I also love to sing! I've done classical piano and classical flute for a long time, but now I am taking jazz vocal lessons. It’s wonderful learning to sing. Plus, how great is it when you can sing your problems away?
  • Advice to new climbers: Enjoy it! Let yourself be proud of sending a v0. Acknowledge that you did something that made you feel accomplished. You have to let yourself be enormously proud of achieving things no matter how big or small. I know that the moment I start to criticize myself, I stop enjoying it. It becomes more frustrating than fun. It’ll feel like a chore and work. You’re getting a massive workout from it, yes, but if you can enjoy doing it, you’ll want to do it more, and that’s really how you get better at climbing.
  • Fun fact: I did karate for eight years and am a second-degree black belt.

Shuto: LAX Customer Experience Shift Lead

  • I have been climbing on and off for roughly 9 years. My brother invited me to try this "new" sport he had found when he was in college.
  • Favorite crag: There's nothing better than climbing great granite in the woods at Black Mountain. 
  • Go-to crag snacks: Nothing like a PB&J to amp you up for your next climb.
  • Advice to new climbers: Climb, climb, climb (don't forget to rest your fingers though). 
  • Fun fact: When I was ten, I had to have a tooth removed from my hard palate (the roof of my mouth). 
  • Being able to lead the AA meetups is an honor, as it is a place where we could share our passions of Asian culture and share our experiences with the culture. 
Introducing Sender One’s 2023 Spring Line

Introducing Sender One’s 2023 Spring Line

the content

Written by Devan Roper, Photos by Katherine Ku & Devan Roper

Hey Sender One Fam!

 Our new Spring Line is now LIVE. If you have been to the gym recently, you might have seen our *literally* cool new merch…

Make your OOTD cooler than the temps this spring with our brand new perspectives tank top, chalk bag, hat, and zip-up. The graphic shows volumes being reflected off mountains to encourage seeing not only climbing from different angles, but those around us.

The design was inspired by our theme of the quarter, “Seeing from Others Perspectives,” which also is one of our core values at Sender One. 

Have a little one who you want to rock Sender One swag? Snag one of our perspective youth hoodies and share the message of seeing from others perspectives with the next generation. 

In case you missed it, we recently launched a Cotopaxi line which includes coolers, backpacks, fanny packs, chalk bags, gear totes, and duffle bags.

Keep your drinks and snacks chilled while at the crag with either our 12L or 24L Cotopaxi coolers. These items are a great conversation starter with their unique look. If you're interested in buying any of these items, see your local Sender One today! 

We can't wait to see you all sporting the new merch!

P.S. If you are a new member, you get a one time 20% off discount on any item in the shop!

Staff Highlight: Sending with Dom Barry

Staff Highlight: Sending with Dom Barry

the content

Written by Khristina Rhead, Edited by Hailey McFelia and Katherine Ku

Dominique Barry – you may have seen him coaching youth climbers at Sender One Playa Vista, making his way up the Torch at LAX, or sport climbing at popular outdoor crag, Malibu Creek. Currently, Dom is not just the Youth Programs Supervisor at Playa Vista, but is also a professional climber supported by well-known brands such as Arc’Teryx, La Sportiva North America, Organic Climbing, Sierra Nevada, and Field Station. 

Born and raised in Southern California, Dom grew up succeeding at multiple sports– surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding, and originally only began climbing out of his involvement with snowboarding when he realized he needed to learn rope systems in order to get into more serious snow terrain. This is when he first went into a climbing gym and tried out bouldering.

Photo Credit: Eric Fallecker

Back in 2018, while living in Lake Tahoe, Dom decided to visit Sender One for the first time; he wanted to visit “Chris Sharma’s gym”, a hero of Dom’s, and a professional climber that invested in Sender One in its early days. A while later, Dom found himself without a home base after leaving Tahoe. 

As luck would have it, Sender One was hiring, and Dom began working as a recreational team coach at the Santa Ana (SNA) location, the first Sender One gym to open in 2013. While at SNA, he transitioned to working in the climbing teams department, first leading the Youth Training Team and then coaching Sender One’s Youth Competition Team. Eventually, Dom transferred to Sender One LAX and led the youth program there as head coach. 

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Dom continued with Sender One as a member of the Crisis Management Team, but eventually, he decided to switch gears, opting to take some time off to travel again. This is when he found himself applying for a life changing experience, HBO’s The Climb, an adventure competition show that “represents the foundations of rock climbing and exploration of the human spirit.” 

As one of the contestants on the show, which is hosted by Chris Sharma and actor/climber Jason Momoa, Dom traveled to Spain and Jordan where he competed against 9 other climbers in bouldering, sport, trad, and speed climbing. Although he ultimately came in 2nd place, he values the time spent on the show. He also said that members of Sender’s leadership team, like Wes Shih, Alice Kao, and Corey Cosby, have been incredibly supportive of him splitting his time between Sender and other professional climbing pursuits. 

"[Climbing has] gone from escape to my method for expressing myself, to now how I pay my bills. It’s a fun way to connect my body to the world around me."

When asked what climbing means to him, he said, “Climbing has had many roles over the years. It’s gone from escape to my method for expressing myself, to now how I pay my bills. It’s a fun way to connect my body to the world around me.” Dom enjoys all types of climbing – sport, bouldering, and trad – but the thing loves most is “try hard climbing”, when it’s all or nothing and he can see what he’s made of. His favorite places to climb are Bishop, CA for bouldering, Rifle, CO or Catalonia, Spain for sport climbing, and Lake Tahoe, CA for trad climbing. 

As someone that’s been climbing, especially at a professional level for a number of years, Dom believes that the climbing industry is amid a shift from the status quo to a new vision. This new vision allows athletes to say “I’m going my way,” and has started to reshape the relationship between brands and their athletes. Companies are increasingly encouraging their athletes to work with them to design pro shoe models based on their own needs and aspirations, similar to what Michael Jordan did with the Air Jordan. Additionally, they are more focused on empowering athletes from marginalized communities than ever before. This all gets him really psyched for the future of the sport, and he’s happy that rock climbing is giving a voice to others that have been silenced in the past. 

Photo Credit: Maria Contreras Coll

However, he does still see issues within the industry. He believes that despite initiatives to bring awareness and exposure to less privileged rock climbers, the price of entry is still “way too high… Unfortunately, there is a race to put up as many gyms as possible without first addressing hey, who can actually access this.”

"Diversity shows others what is possible. Oftentimes, if you don’t see yourself in a certain space, you believe you’re not supposed to be there, which couldn’t be further from the truth. "

Pro Climber, Maureen Beck, belays another climber during Global Climbing Day.

Photo credit: Eric Fallecker

In the same vein, when asked why diversity in climbing is important, Dom said he never saw anyone that looked like him actually participating in the sport as an athlete, but rather only in other roles, mentioning legendary action sport commentator Selema Masekela. “Diversity shows others what is possible. Oftentimes, if you don’t see yourself in a certain space, you believe you’re not supposed to be there, which couldn’t be further from the truth. In some cases it can be seen as life or death if someone doesn’t have [a sport as an] outlet, and all they have is exposure to something that’s detrimental to their well-being.” 

Thank you, Dom, for being willing to be interviewed! You’re a great coach, fellow employee, and member of the Sender One community overall. We’re lucky to have you! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the future both within and outside of the climbing community. 

To see what Dom is up to currently, follow him on Instagram @the_dommylama

Pin It on Pinterest