Meet Our Head Coaches: Christian & Dom - Sender One Climbing

Last week, we had our head coaches, Christian Mercene and Dom Barry, from SNA & LAX takeover the Sender One Instagram. They shared insight on their coaching and climbing experiences with our community while providing some rad photos of themselves. We can’t get past the fact of how extremely fortunate we are to have such inspiring individuals be part of the Sender One team and lead the next generation of climbers.

We opened up the floor to our community to ask some questions for Dom and Christian to answer:

What is your proudest coaching moment?

  • DB: My proudest coaching moment was a team multi-pitch climb in Tahoe. [It was] great to see some of the team conquer deep fears and others lend a helping hand with easing nerves.
  • CM: There are so many honestly, but one that sticks out (not just because his dad asked this question 😂) was seeing Silas Change represent team USA for speed [climbing] in Arco Italy. Such a surreal and proud moment representing our community. 

What is your proudest send?

  • DB:  My proudest send(s) were probably v5 / 5.12. These were the first climbs to really challenge me and help me understand the intricacies of rock climbing.
  • CM: Proudest send I would have to say my most recent one. Check my page if you’re interested in watching the send! 

What is your favorite crag snack?

  • DB: Favorite crag snack is Ling Hing Mui gummy bears!! We all have our vices, haha.
  • CM: Favorite crag snacks are Kind Snacks, especially the dark chocolate & sea salt bar.

Who are your biggest role models and why?

  • DB: No doubt my biggest role models are the women [in my life] and my family. With my father absent, my mother and "village" helped raise me. Without them, I don't know where I'd be.
  • CM: LeBron James because not only is he an athlete, but he has played a huge role in giving back to his community, Kobe Bryant because #mambamentality (r.i.p. 🙏🏽), Bruce Lee because of his spirit and outlook on life.

What’s your favorite donut and why?

  • DB: My favorite donut is strawberry glazed with rainbow sprinkles. I have an insatiable sweet tooth and this one checks my boxes all day.
  • CM: Favorite donut, I have to say the original glazed 🤤.

Other than basic climbing gear, what’s the one thing/gadget/hack that you’re so glad to have discovered?

  • DB: The Organic Climbing spot pad!! It serves as a backpack, crash pad, crag nap station/sleeping pad, rope edge protector, shovel, and shelter. Love that thing.
  • CM: The Trango Climbing stick clip for sure (no shame, haha). I’m able to clip into the first bolt safely without taking a ground fall, in case the first couple moves are spicy!

Any tips on getting out of a climbing plateau?

  • DB: It's important to note if you are actually plateauing, or if you're just having a bad session. One thing that can be helpful is to start a training log and really use it! This way you can see what you've been doing and determine what changes can be made to your process if any. Have you only been climbing one style? How are basic life necessities such as sleep, hydration, and nutrition? Are you getting enough rest in between sessions? Are you getting outside of your comfort zone? From a physical standpoint, I like to start with this kind of check-in and go from there. I hope this helps!
  • CM: Plateaus are an inevitable part of climbing just like anything else. The key thing for me has been consistency, trying to stay injury-free, and tracking strength gains. Sometimes it’s hard to see progress when focusing on grades, but I try to keep track of objective benchmark assessments like hangboarding or pull up strength (how much weight can you add, etc.). Even keeping track of your V-Points during a session and keeping a log as Dom mentioned. With this data, you can track your strength over time and not have to rely too much on subjective grading.
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A post shared by Dominique (@the_dommylama) on

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What keeps you guys humble day in and day out?

  • DB: Elitism in climbing is ridiculous in my opinion. We are literally either playing in dirt and rocks or [on] colorful plastic holds. Just keeping it real. It’s great to be proud of your accomplishments, but remember where you started. I think about the people who took the time to show me what's up when I first started climbing. It would be disrespectful to them to not pay it forward. Each one, teach one.
  • CM: I’d like to piggyback on what Dom said. The environment/community aspect I’ve personally experienced during my years of climbing helped shape the outlook I have today. That’s what makes the rock climbing tribe special in my opinion. People, for the most part, are encouraging, supportive and psyched to show you the ropes! Rock climbing is a privilege and I just try to not take it for granted. It can be taken away from you so fast (injuries, pandemic, etc). It’s important to stay grounded by looking at the bigger picture. No room for elitism here.

To Christian specifically, “How on earth did you go from climbing a few 8a’s to sending 8c+ in the span of one year?! It’s against the law of physics…”

  • CM: I think there are a couple of factors to this for me. I think that being primarily a boulderer during most of my years climbing has helped set up my strength foundation for sport climbing. I only dabbled in sport every once in a while until I got a consistent rope partner (a year ago) who is always psyched to go out every chance we get!

To Dom specifically, “What was your favorite moment and/or biggest lesson learned from your abroad climbing trips?”

  • DB: Great question. My favorite moment on a climbing trip abroad is being in Greece, pumped out of my mind, on a route. Leaning back to shake out, I see the most beautiful body of water behind me. It was my first time out of the country so it felt even more special. It was one of those “thank jah” moments, most definitely. My biggest lesson from climbing abroad (which should have been a no brainer) is to really take the time to read up on the culture and history of the places you intend to visit before you even purchase your ticket. Learn the language. Create a cheat sheet if you have to! A little effort can go a long way in foreign lands.

A huge thank you again to Dom and Christian for opening up to our community and allowing us to learn a bit more about them! These two, along with the rest of our youth coaches, have continuously worked hard over the past few months and during our closure to keep our youth climbers psyched. Hats off to these coaches and all coaches who maintain another level of motivation during these trying times. 

Check out their full take over on our Instagram page.

Photos by: Veronika Hair, Rick Shar, Cristiano Serrato, Jason Chang, Eric Fallecker