3358a Coffey Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95403   |   707-573-1608

STAFF

Who We Are

Meet the people dedicated to providing the space and the expertise for people to pursue true health, community, and authentic connections with others through the climbing lifestyle.

Gorden Cooley

Owner, Strength Coach, Bench Presses More Than You Do

Gorden found climbing in 2005 and has been psyched ever since. A former student athlete, climbing imparted a means to stay fit while participating in a sport that he loves. For Gorden climbing is more than a hobby. It gives him focus in training, recreation and life.

Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in kinesiology, Gorden has had the pleasure to train some phenomenally strong climbers, and to see first hand what makes them tick. He is a certified strength and conditioning coach, and holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Sonoma State University. He began his career in fitness as a personal trainer in local Santa Rosa gyms. This eventually led to establishing the training department at Vertex. Developing his strength and conditioning system in both climbing and traditional gyms has given him a unique understanding of climbing specific athletic development.

As owner of Vertex he is dedicated to providing a welcoming space and a rich variety of programs for everyone to reach their full athletic potential.

João Paulo Pereira

Yoga Instructor, Breathwork Coach, Acro Yoga Shenanigans Facilitator, Private Climbing Instructor, Webmaster

João has been practicing yoga since his late teens and has been teaching for more than sixteen years now! He is versed in Hatha, Vinyasa, Swasthya, Qi Gong, Pilates, Yoga Therapy, Kung Fu, and Thai Massage. Having studied with notable teachers in Brazil, India, Canada, Denmark, Bali, and California, he has been able to bring his knowledge and versatility to Vertex and has cultivated a core following of João-addicted yogis. He feels as though Vertex is his second home. Come check out one of his classes!

Patrick Smithson

Head Routesetter, Absolute Crusher

This is the man that makes sure you climb strong! With over 10 years of route setting experience Patrick keeps the routes fresh, fun and thought provoking.

Duke Schimmer

Routesetter, Youth Climbing Coach

Duke began climbing in 2009 during his extended stay at Chico State. The first place he ever climbed in was a tiny wall tucked in the back of an old dusty university gym, but he was hooked. That summer, while home from school, he began climbing at Vertex and has never stopped. He has traveled to many different climbing areas around the world, cultivating a love for all types of climbing, from steep caves to technical slabs, but enjoys slopey compression climbing above all else. He also likes creating fun routes for his fellow climbers in the gym and sharing the stoke with the youth teams he coaches.

Kevin Radle

General Manager, All Around Good Guy

Kevin first discovered rock climbing in college when he joined an outdoor adventure program and was taken for his first climbing adventure at the top of a mountain. He’s been hooked ever since.

While earning his degree in Energy Management and Design at Sonoma State University he began a part time job at the campus rock wall. He brought his skills to Vertex shortly after graduation and quickly rose to the General Manager position.

Rock climbing is a huge passion of his and he brings this fervor to work with him. He loves the supportive nature of the climbing community. When not making sure the gym runs smoothly, Kevin can be found exploring and crushing new and exciting mountain crags. It is not lost on him that every new climbing experience has something special to offer and that exhilaration and extreme beauty await him upon every ascent.

Amber Keneally

Athletics Director, Personal Trainer, Web Content Creator, Resident Writer

With a lifelong passion for physical fitness and a mighty love and respect for rock-climbing, Amber was inspired to become a personal trainer and brought on board at Vertex in 2010. She believes that a body in motion stays in motion and that we should all find the physical pursuits that we enjoy most in order to stay happy and healthy as long as we can. She is stoked to work in such a supportive and creative environment and places high value on the close-knit Vertex community.

In addition to kicking (and sculpting!) butts in her training sessions and fitness classes, Amber writes the Vertex newsletters highlighting the gym’s many goings on. In 2017, Amber was voted Sonoma County’s Best Personal Trainer in the North Bay Bohemian in their annual reader’s poll. She has maintained the title for three years running!

When not at Vertex she can be found baking pies, doing burpees, and hanging out with her husband and two children in Geyserville, CA.

Kelly Sanders

Private Climbing Instructor, Friendliest Front Desker, Social Media Maven

Kelly grew up in the West Marin countryside, accustomed to running wild and free. When she first set foot in Vertex in 2010, she immediately recognized she had entered a realm where challenge, glory, failure, and passion projects could all be shared with like minded people doing the same. She loves the way climbing strips away fear in favor of immediacy, builds skill, and most importantly teaches you about yourself. First drawn to the challenge of bouldering and the dedication it requires, she eventually took it outdoors. Bouldering trips led to exploring Bishop (which really opened her eyes) and she was off and running from there, combining her passions fro climbing and travel. Climbing has taken her across the U.S., to Potrero Chico, Mexico, and of course, to Yosemite, where trad climbing on Half Dome forever stole her heart.

She feels climbing has given her a unique outlet for learning about herself and others across the globe, testing her abilities, stepping fully into her body, and learning ways to caretake and fight for the sacred wild outdoors.

Aly Alvarez

Assistant Manager, Youth Program Coordinator, Yoga Instructor, 100% Bad to the Bone

Vertex has had quite the influence on Aly Alvarez. Though she began climbing at the gym over ten years ago, it’s still her favorite spot. She is a firm believer that climbing creates a strong sense of community and that it is SO RAD to be a part of it. Whether she is instructing kids, teaching yoga, or working the front desk, you can tell she really loves Vertex and the community it cultivates.

She feels empowered by the fact that she gets to help give kids the confidence and body awareness to push through a challenge. You can tell she is passionate about sharing her love for climbing and movement.

To Aly, there is no other activity that gives her the physical and mental strength to conquer her fears and goals, and being able to share this with others has uplifted and inspired her even more. Climb on!

Olivia Gonnella

Routesetter, Youth Climbing Coach, Beast

Olivia started frequenting the “VCC” after stumbling upon the gym with some friends at the tender age of twenty. Soon after, she began bouldering on the Sonoma Coast and was forced to become comfortable with sandstone slopers and sandbagged grades. Climbing has taken Olivia to many amazing places, her favorite being Fontainebleau, France, for the slabs, compression, slopers…and the pastries. You might see Olivia in Vertex, routesetting, co-coaching Team Vertex or happily taking a fall on her next project.

Ruben Lepp

Routesetter

Coming from a variety of sports that kept leading to injury, Ruben began to look at climbing, something that he had previously done as just a hobby, as his full-time passion. Climbing always offers something new and is as endlessly inspiring to him now as it was in 2011 when he began to take it seriously. Now fully immersed in the sport, he divides his time between work and traveling the world in search of amazing climbing. From the limestone cliffs of Thailand and Laos to the coastal granite walls of Norway, he has never been more stoked on exploration and interaction with the beauty and cultures of the world than when climbing brings him there. When he began to route set at Vertex, it gave him a new perspective and creative outlet within climbing. He hopes his routes impart the same emotion and stoke he gets from climbing because the excitement and joy people get from his work in turn keeps him inspired and fired up to do his job. It’s a full circle, symbiotic kind of thing and he feels lucky that his work is something he loves.