Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

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 Meetup.com 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. 

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