Honoring Moms Who Climb Mountains | Sender One Blog

Written by Anneka Peterson | Edited by Alexandra Erdman

Spring is in full swing and Mother’s Day is right around the corner. With that being said, here at Sender One we’d like to take a moment to celebrate all of our amazing mothers that have raised us to be the incredibly strong climbers that we are today! To celebrate, we invite our community to bring their moms into climb for free on Sunday 5/11! Mother’s Day is a time where we take a pause to reflect on all the challenges and milestones that motherhood faces, and yet our mom’s still come out on top. There is something so magical about how mothers seem to know exactly what to say, exactly what to do, and exactly how to fix any problem that their children may face in their growing years. How do they always seem to know? It truly is incredible, isn't it? These Incredible women climb metaphorical, and sometimes physical, mountains to give us every opportunity they possibly can.

Let’s take a moment to look back into history at some of the most famous mom’s that have conquered physical feats of strength on some incredible walls around the world. It’s practically impossible to mention climbing without mentioning Alex Honnold at any point in the conversion; however, did you know that his mother has gotten into the sport herself? This incredibly strong woman has broken the record for being the oldest woman to summit El Capitan, located in Yosemite, California. Led by her talented son, Dierdre Wolownick, has become the oldest woman to climb El Capitan, breaking her OWN record after scaling the rock face for a second time on her 70th birthday. The first time Wolownick climbed El Cap she was 66. It took her a total of 13 hours to reach the summit and it became too dark for her to see the incredible view, but she was determined. According to a New York Times article, Wolownick told CNN “…I still wanted it, I wanted to be up there and see what it was like 

for myself. I wanted to sleep up there, to see the sunset and sunrise, and I felt like I had to do it.” Her determination paid off. She summited the 3,000ft climb in 6 hours, cutting her previous attempt by more than half! Now if that's not a testament to the true strength of a mother, I don’t know what is. 

Sender One will have a special opportunity by hosting a talk with Dierdre Wolownick Honnold to hear her story! After her second time making the summit, Wolownick wrote a book "The Sharp End of Life: A Mother's Story" and is giving a presentation! Feel free to join us in the LAX Sender One yoga studio for a 60 minute talk, audience Q & A and book signing with this incredible mother. You can RSVP here!

 When: Saturday, May 11th, 2024

Time: 5:00pm

Where: Sender One LAX - Yoga Studio

Pricing: Free to join with Sender One Day Pass, Punch Pass or Membership, or Discounted event day pass of $20 when booked in advance (includes climbing + rentals)

Pregnancy and motherhood comes with its own personal challenges, as women, and as climbers, women’s bodies go through the ringer! We bleed, we cramp, we bring new life into the world. And as climbers, we bleed, we cramp and we challenge our own psyche in this extreme sport. Paige Claassen, an Eddie Bauer climbing guide and professional climber is nothing short of miraculous. After a miscarriage and a historic ascent of the famous sport climb Dreamcatcher, she breaks the standards of what motherhood looks like and speaks on how women CAN be mothers, but they can also be world renowned climbers. I implore you all to take a look at her short documentary on Youtube called LOVE| A Film about Motherhood, Strength, and Climbing

In our very own Sender One Community we have our fair share of mothers that spend their time enjoying the great outdoors as well as getting their children involved. 

Nicole Pate, shares her story of what it's like to be a mother in the sport, “I am very competitive, especially with myself, so when I started climbing I was always chasing the next hard climb. I spent a lot of time training and climbing outside, and if I had a trip where I didn't send or make significant progress on a project I would be frustrated. Having kids speeds up a lot of aspects of life, but it really slowed down my climbing life. It's hard to project while chasing after a little kid.”

She describes that motherhood has its challenges, but conversely it also brings a silver lining. Having kids forced her to appreciate everything else the sport brings--community, friendships, a fun way to stay active--and not having a climbing trip's success tied to her was freeing in a way. 

Now she gets to experience her daughter falling in love with climbing as well. Every time they go on a hike her daughter begs them to find boulders for her to climb, and she doesn't want easy climbs, she wants to project. “Seeing her obsess over a climb until she sends brings me so much joy, it is as satisfying as sending my own project...almost.”

Nicole concludes, “I think climbing is something I'll do with my family for the rest of my life, and I am excited to see how that evolves over time.”

Similarly Alice Kao, our CEO and founder, has raised her kids in the world of climbing as well. This is her experience. “Both my kids grew up in the gym. For Sydney, my 11 year old, literally IN THE GYM.  For the first year we opened SNA there was a crib in the back office!Because the gym is their home, we've tried not to push them into climbing and let them choose their own activities. We do bring them to the gym on the weekends to climb with us and our friends, and we've taken them on climbing trips outside.

It was definitely harder when they were babies. We ended up making friends with other parents at the gyms and as a group we would take turns climbing and babysitting each other's kids. Fortunately both our girls don't hate climbing, and now on the weekends they'll even ask us to take them to the gym.” 

Both Alice and Nicole were able to share their passion of climbing while still allowing their kids to decide their own outdoor journey. Motherhood is all about understanding and growing with your children, in these cases specifically, it's amazing to see nurturing mothers in our community share their passions with the little ones in their lives that they love the most.

Even my own mom has a memory to share.The first time I saw my daughter scramble to the top of a flag pole, I knew I had a mountain goat on my hands. Anneka was five and it was her first day at her new gymnastics class. ‘Whoa,’ the teacher cried when she saw her race to the flag pole and shimmy up. OK, so I won’t lie. I was proud. And not entirely surprised. At nine months, her mommy & me swim teacher remarked on her  ‘great upper body strength’ — I didn’t even know that was a thing for babies. As I watched her grow into a sociable, sometimes solitary nature lover, driven by a stubbornness as tough as her independent streak, and developing athletic prowess, it became clear to me that it was only a matter of time. Sooner, or later, she would succumb to the lure of rock climbing. Excited as I was by the thought, I worried.” 

“I’ve climbed many mountains but only one very tall rock and nothing will ever shake the memory of clinging to that sheer wall, contemplating how to make sure my next move would not be my last. But, hey I won’t lie — somewhere on that rock, I decided I would not let myself die. I knew it was all up to me. Call it a crash course in focus. Slanting rays of early evening sun cast an orange reflection on the rock. The next thing I remember is hoisting myself up over a ledge. My hands were damp. I don’t know how I did it, but I made it to the top. I never wanted to rock climb again, but when I finally saw my daughter fall under that spell as a college girl in the Rockies, I became less afraid. She was competent, methodical, had courage, valued safety, learned from those who knew the ropes — and she was stubborn as a goat. I figured she had the grit to get to the top. And I’m not gonna lie — I’m proud.” 

I’ll leave you with this amazing quote from LOVE: “It just blows my mind that we don't talk more about…all of it. Do you even know how many people have become mom’s in this world?” 

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