MEET THE TEAM

Your Hardworking Humans Behind It All

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NATALIE TK

Founder

5'1'' -3"

In January 2017, I visited a “Ninja Warrior Gym” in Las Vegas for the first time. I had no idea that you could do something physically active that was FUN. So when I went back to my hometown in San Jose and there was no ninja warrior gym, rock climbing was the next thing to try. I got a day pass at The Studio on January 31st and came back later that evening to sign up for a Touchstone membership!


In 2018, I co-founded Lady Crush Crew, a women empowerment community. As time went on, I knew that something else was calling me and branched out to create Petite Ascension in August 2019.


I am 5’1” (155cm) with a -3” ape index (147cm) and with this, I’ve always sought out other “petite” climbers during climbing sessions.


Before I started climbing, I never did any other physical activity.


My non-climbing hobbies consist of being a foodie, watching anime and playing video games!


My climbing goal is to get outside more for bouldering and my non-climbing goal is to buy a house within the next 2 years!


During the day, I am a registered nurse (RN) and by night, you can find me climbing and hosting Petite Ascension meet-ups at Planet Granite Santa Clara !


Don’t be shy and say hello if you see me!

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ALLAN CT ALVAREZ

Team Member

5'4" +3" Gorilla Index 


Over the past 6 years Ive found a passion for climbing. Started tying in for top ropes, got spotted in bouldering,  lead to sport climbing, racked up to trad climbing, added multi-pitch,  to be free enough to solo, but crashing back to bouldering. Volunteering for the Access Fund and American Alpine Club while becoming a board member for the Bay Area Climbers Coalition I found ways to give back to a great community.  Forerunning, route setting, and coaching is part-time work. When they ask which gym is my home gym I say that I'm homeless. I really don't have one because I go to a different gym every day and I feel at home at most. Ultimately I could always call Bridges Rock Gym home even if I haven't been there for awhile.  


Outside the climbing community I still like to be outside. I like to take my GNU and Lib Tech boards out on Blue Bird Days. Being Robin Hood as I hit a robin hood. Rolling balls down the lanes to pick up a 7-10 split or perfectly hitting a 300. Petite list to be partial but not the full reveal. 


Some words from the wise. "JDF = Just Don't Fall" 


Facts that may be weird or fun: First, I have a reptile room. Second, Sponsored Athlete. Third. I'm terrified of heights. 

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CHRIS YEE

Team Member

Dear diary,


Today was going so well until I had to think of what to write for this bio.


Where do I even begin?


Well, I guess I would consider myself a Swiss Army knife of hobbies. I’m not just a climber they think at home.

Oh no no no.

I am also mostly a bodybuilder, amateur artist/doodler, beginner level photographer with no understanding of my camera (you just point and click, right?), beginner snowboarder, and many more to come.


I started my climbing addiction September 2016, and I have no interest in being sober. Even though I mostly indoor boulder, I do enjoy the occasional outdoor climbing adventures from time to time. My home gym is Touchstone’s very own (The) Studio in beautiful downtown San Jose, where the gym is as homely as its patrons... *cough*

I’m kidding, they are all great people that even your grandmother would approve of. 

As a relatively strong 5’6” climber with a +2 ape index, there is almost nothing I can’t climb... as long as it’s V8 or under.

Strengths: Surprisingly flexible. Even though my body is not as young and supple as it once was.

Weaknesses: Crimps...

Goals and aspirations: Error. Answer not found. Please try again later.


Fun facts: On my lazy days, I enjoy watching anime and/or playing games. Or taking a 3+ hour nap. 


What was that? You’re asking if I have any words of wisdom to pass onto you innocent Padawans? Why yes I do. And it is this:

“Don’t forget to like and subscribe. Follow me on Instagram: @ccyee4”

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APRIL HERRERA

San Francisco Ambassador

Photo by @lexbeckss

Ape Index : -3” (I’m 5’3” and have a wingspan 5’0”)

I am a San Francisco Bay Area native who got into climbing in my early twenties. It all started when I went to my local climbing gym, Mission Cliffs, for a date. I did not come from an athletic background, so initially climbing was very difficult for me as it required using muscles I never worked out. I also happened to be terrified of heights so getting acquainted with the vertical world was a bit of an adjustment. Fast forward a few months and climbing became a strong passion of mine - I was making it a point to go to the gym 3 times a week because I was thrilled at what climbing was doing not only for my physique and self confidence, but also my ability to work through my fears. Since starting this journey I’ve climbed and visited places I most likely never would have known about -- Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Red Rocks, Jamestown, Yosemite, Auburn, Joshua Tree, Castle Rock, and Pinnacles.

I have a deep appreciation for the past few years as I’ve grown from a brand new to a lightly seasoned climber. A lot of what I’ve learned has been from womxn climbers who took the time out to take me under their wings and teach me proper crag etiquette, climbing/belay techniques, etc. Those experiences with other womxn are exactly the reason why I like to give back to the women’s climbing community by helping contribute to womxn-based organizations that are inclusive of all experience levels. Without those ladies, I don’t think I’d be where I am today. I enjoy helping organize, table and/or co-host events, taking photographs, participating and overseeing online discussions, and talking with new folxs who may be too shy or afraid to reach out.

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CHELSEA DUONG

Fountain Valley Ambassador

Chelsea started climbing right after graduating college in July of 2017 as way to stay active and she hasn't stopped since. She's been climbing mainly indoors for about 2.5 years now and is looking to do more outdoors trips. She is 5'2" and has 5'4" (+2) ape index. Her home gym is Hangar 18 in Mission Viejo and mainly boulders but you can catch her gym hopping on the weekends.

Besides climbing, she loves to be outdoors in general whether it be running, hiking, or snowboarding. When she's not outdoors she enjoys watching Bon Appétit videos (specifically Gourmet Makes), doing crossword puzzles, and binge watching Grey's Anatomy. 

Fun facts: Her favorite animal is the giraffe and she can fit her fist in her mouth.

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HESTER LAM

Dallas Ambassador

Name: Hester Lam
Current Location: Dallas, TX
Ape Index: 4’11 and -1


Hester first started climbing when she was living in Los Angeles. She found a Groupon for a belay lesson at Stronghold Climbing Gym and was immediately hooked! She then found an REI intro to outdoor bouldering class and climbed outside at Stoney Point a week later. Hester then moved to the climbing mecca of Dallas, TX (full sarcasm), where she found her tribe of climbers at the local Summit Climbing gym. Despite her beginnings as an outdoor boulderer, Hester prefers sport climbing.


Hester loves climbing because of the supportive nature of the community and the mental aspect of working through a climb.  Hester has visited multiple gyms throughout the country through traveling for work and has found so many new friends through climbing.  She loves how welcoming climbers are, and how willing they are to trade catches, no matter where she goes.  Her favorite days involve laughing at the crag with her climbing crew and trying her best to climb (but often ends up flailing around like a beached whale). 


In her free time not climbing, Hester loves to backpack and hike! She’s  backpacked the Camino de Santiago in Spain via Portugal and most of the Everest Base Camp trek. When not outside, Hester enjoys spoiling her mini goldendoodle, Peyton, and baking cookies, cakes, and pies to satisfy her horrible sweet tooth. She’s also more than slightly obsessed with good coffee and typically found with an almond milk latte in hand.

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ELLIE SHIN

Team Member

4'10", +0


Man. If I knew how much a sport could change my life, I would have gotten on it sooner. I've never been more in shape in my life since I started climbing (HELLO ABS and GUNS amirite?) and I've never explored other countries and cities more than when I've explored their outdoor climbing. I also never expected to make friends that I can literally entrust with my life - never has been truer words spoken with belay buddies 4 lyfe.


While there's been some greats with climbing, there's been some not-so-greats. In March 2019, I broke my right tib/fib bouldering in Red Rock, NV and basically took a year off of climbing. I took that time to find a purpose to my climbing and to learn more about zero-waste/sustainable living. I've since dedicated myself to giving back to local climbing/outdoor organizations and also to communities and organizations that empower womxn, POC, and queer people to enjoy and take charge of the outdoors and their experiences with it. Combine this with my other hobbies - baking, backpacking, photography, crafting - and it's a wonder that I have time to myself during any given day during the week but I wouldn't change that for the world! 


So with that I wish you cheers, and I hope our community helps you achieve sends on and off the walls.

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RYAN SUEN

Team Member

Ryan Suen is a currently reforming boulder toad attempting to turn trad daddy and alpine junkie. Essentially, peak-bagging and long multi-pitches are his ultimate goals, but bouldering is just so dang fun. Climbing aside, Ryan is also a thoroughly experienced hiker and an ultralight gear addict. He owns more packs than he cares to say, and his extreme levels of masochism allows him to call an 18 liter pack a perfectly sized 2-3 day backpacking pack.


Great Western Power Company is typically where Ryan climbs, but his home gym will always be the Studio. If you're ever at either of these gyms and keep hearing obnoxious power noises, it's probably Ryan.


But really, for Ryan, it's all about the community. All about the people. At the end of the day, whether you're pulling on pristine Touchstone plastic or Sierra backcountry choss, we're all just trying to have a bit of fun. After all, the best climber is the one having the most fun. Pretty sure Adam Ondra said that? Maybe?

 

©2020 by Petite Ascension.