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SCARPA begins second year of Athlete Mentorship Initiative

September 14, 2022

Media Contact

Dave Simpson | Siena Teare
Verde Brand Communications |


Mountain Hardwear, Hestra and Darn Tough join forces with SCARPA to support mentees from BIPOC, LGBTQ and Disabled communities.

Almost two years after announcing its inaugural Athlete Mentorship Initiative (SAMI), SCARPA graduated 31 mentees and launched into the second year of a program designed to create more access, support and opportunity for outdoor athletes from historically marginalized communities. The SAMI program will again pair aspiring athletes who are from the BIPOC, LGBTQ and Disabled communties with mentors from SCARPA’s athlete team in the climbing, mountaineering, skiing and running categories. This year, Mountain Hardwear, Hestra, and Darn Tough will be joining as co-sponsors to provide even more opportunities and support for this year’s roster of mentees. 

“We are incredibly excited to welcome in our new ‘sophomore’ class of mentees into the SCARPA family,” said Kim Miller, CEO of SCARPA North America. “As a 40-year veteran of the Outdoor Industry, a person of color and an immigrant myself, it feels monumental to help provide the industry access, support and education to historically underrepresented communities. We recognize that we have a long journey ahead of us, and working with these incredible individuals is only the first step.” 

The ‘freshman’ class of both mentees and mentors regularly met to work on individual projects and goals, and new members can expect the same level of hands-on mentorship and collaboration. The first year mentee goals ranged from attempting specific routes, grades and lines and preparing to climb Mt. Everest to completing AMGA Guide courses or other needed certifications. Most mentee goals were accomplished, including Eddie Taylor’s goal to climb Everest, which he completed in April as part of Full Circle, the first-ever all Black team to attempt the summit of the highest mountain on earth.

“It has been incredibly empowering to share space with climbers of all levels and disciplines,” said Shara Zaia, a climbing mentee from year one of the program and one of the founders of Cruxing in Color. “I have appreciated feeling empowered to try new (and scary) things like presenting at the climber’s fest and hosting an Instagram takeover.”

This year’s class has 20 mentees and 19 mentors, with a wide range of goals and projects. 

From its inception, the SAMI program has been focused on community empowerment through a potent blend of authenticity, attention to detail, and long-term vision, not just for SCARPA but for the entire outdoor community and industry,” said Graham Zimmerman, professional climber and SCARPA mentor. “In a sector that is grappling with how to take on social equity, this program is first in class.” 

The SAMI program marks another step in ongoing action that SCARPA is taking to help create more diversity, equity and inclusion in the climbing and outdoor sports community. SCARPA chose its mentees in alignment with a program designed to create more access and opportunity for climbing and outdoor athletes from historically underrepresented communities. SCARPA believes that diversity and inclusion needs to happen at all levels of the outdoor community, from new outdoor enthusiasts to sponsored outdoor athletes. In order for this to happen, there need to be stepping stones that offer accessible progression to allow individuals to follow their dreams and reach their full athletic and professional potential in climbing and outdoor sports. 

“The people I’ve met, whether it be the staff at SCARPA, the people they’ve put us in touch with, the mentors or the other mentees have been so valuable,” said Akio Joy, a climbing  mentee from year one paired with Josh Wharton. “The best part is honestly feeling heard and valued by people I find inspiring.” 

Official 2022/2023 mentee roster and disciplines:

Bryce Barnes – splitboard

Cassie Ayoungman – climb

Elisa Varlotta – climb

Emma Redick -run

Greg Donohue – photographer 

Ishani Sawant – mountain

Joshua Michael Golden – climb

Josue De Luna Navarro – climb

Lauren Rouse – climb

Leah Miller – climb

Mari Simpson-Hirata – climb

Rya Sipe – climb

Santiago Vega – ski

Scott Lehmann – mountain

Shayna Unger – mountain

Shondeen Stone Chavez – climb

Suraj Kushwaha – climb 

Tammy Vupham – ski

Xavier Bravo – climb

Yasmine Hashemi – ski 


About SCARPA and SCARPA North America 

Founded in 1938, SCARPA builds performance footwear for climbing, hiking, skiing, mountaineering, trail running and other outdoor pursuits from its headquarters in Asolo, Italy. SCARPA has been owned and operated by the Parisotto family since 1956. In 2005, SCARPA opened its North American headquarters in Boulder, Colo., staffed and directed by veterans of the North American outdoor industry, to oversee sales, marketing and distribution in the U.S., Canada and South America. For more information about SCARPA footwear, visit