Climbing Staff



Adam Pessl General Manager

1. I’ve been working in the climbing gym industry for over 18 years
2. Took my first climbing class @ Vertical Club on Eliot Ave. in 1987. I was 12 years old. Began spending most weekends @ Index shortly there after. Graduated from Index to Yosemite. Climbed El Cap in 1995. Discovered bouldering shortly there after and realized it was much less work than climbing big walls. Spent many days bouldering in Leavenworth, and then discovered my desk in the office at Vertical World. The rest is history.
3. My favorite climbing area is Seneca Rocks West Virginia



Bret Johnston Manager

1. I have two wiener dogs
2. More than one VW member probably baby sat me as a kid
3. I am the youngest USAC National Chief Routesetter in the country
4. I am a fantasy football nerd
5. Vertical World is family



Evan Stickles Assistant Manager

1. I have two middle names. James and Lally.
2. If I were to be in a band, I would be in a ska band which would be called ’ups and downs, but mostly ups’.
3. When daydreaming at work, I usually travel off to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to do some sunny day cliff jumping with good friends.
4. To woo my friendship, a simple grilled cheese and a smile is usually a solid beginning.
5. Have a positive mental attitude to live a story worth telling for the greater good.



Mattie J. Wheeler Regional Director of Programs and Instruction

1. I first drove a car when I was 10 on the Bonneville salt flats speedway. My dad had me sit on a phonebook to be able to see over the wheel.
2. Foraging is the best! Berries, Morels, Chantrelles, and Asparagus are mostly what I seek but I’m always trying to learn more.
3. I enjoy simple pleasures like watching it rain when the sun shines through it and you can see every drop.
4. I dream of living on a lot of land and owning a cow.
5. I like trucks, Toyota Trucks.


Alex Aizenman Seattle Head Setter/Facilities Coordinator

1. I choose to believe that I am descendant from the Maqabim, an ancient Jewish warrior tribe (this is very unlikely)
2. Rare is the occasion that I am in possession of the big three - phone, keys, wallet - at the same time
3. If you invite me over I will leave my phone, keys, or wallet at your house (this extends to my sunglasses and backpack)
4. If you climb with me there is a decent chance of epicing and I will probably play my flute while I belay you.
5. No one knows this but I am actually a fairly decent banjo player. But I don’t like bluegrass so I haven’t heard that song.



Jeff Narva Instructor

1. I prefer modes of transportation that involve 2 wheels and a motor.
2. I actively seek out Type II Fun.
3. I have a disappointing negative 2″ ape index.
4. Bob Gaines once told me I build excellent anchors.
5. I want ALL the ProDeals.



Lauren Rojas Youth Program Instructor/Front Desk

1. I was born and raised on the coast of southern California.
2. I dabble in furniture making and am hoping to make a career of it in the near future.
3. I have over 30 dinosaurs in my room and am currently wondering at what age this obsession is inappropriate.
4. I have decided that the age of 24 is okay.
5. I make a mean zucchini walnut chocolate chip muffin, and my favorite animals are sharks.



Tim McCool Front Desk

1. Born in Kansas, bred in North Carolina
2. I’ve memorized 800 digits of Pi
3. I maintain several Pinball High Scores around Seattle
4. I speak a small amount of Japanese and Mandarin
5. Avid cuddler of pets



Stephen Snell Route Setter/Front Desk

1. I can do a kickflip
2. I have a black belt in aikido, just like Steven Segall.  My mom and brother also have black belts in aikido.
3. I can name every bone in your body.  Well, most bones.  All but a few.
4. I lived in France for a year, but I was only 1 year old, so I don’t remember any of it.
5. My favorite cereal is a toss up between Raisin Bran and Wheat Chex.



Brian Luft Front Desk

1. Aspires to have a flock of sheep
2. Favorite former professional wrestler is John “Bradshaw” Layfield
3. Moonlights as a pastry chef
4. Favorite explorer is Ernest Shackleton
5. One of the above is not true



Samantha Heim Events and Outreach Coordinator

1. I’ve traveled to 42 states and 10 countries.
2. I’m half Japanese
3. I’m lactose intolerant but still eat Cheetos.
4. My spine is curved.
5. I hope to own goats someday.


Billy Gierach Climbing Instructor/Front Desk

1. I almost walked on to the University of Colorado Boulder’s basketball team until I discovered climbing.
2. My first ever climb outside was a free solo of the direct route on the first flatiron in Boulder, Colorado.
3. I have many pending publications with my findings in my honors thesis titled, ”Synaptogyrin 3 Binds Amyloid Beta and May Alter Dopamine Transport in Alzheimer’s Disease.”
4. Cereal is my motivation to get up in the morning, not coffee…  Yes, I still like coffee.
5. I am named after the philosopher William James.



Tristan O’Mara Retail Coordinator

1. I know more names of wildflowers than I do people.
2. My favorite inanimate object is a train.
3. When I’m adventuring outside, I follow a strict pop tart only diet.
4. I can’t whistle to save my life.
5. My most embarrassing climbing moment is when I tore my leggings at the top of Mt Shuksan and had to descend with my butt showing..Yes there were other people around.



Kathryn Spisso Youth Program Coordinator

1. I was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which technically makes me a “Yooper”. Though, I claim my home state to be East Tennessee.
2. I’m a proud mom to the coolest tuxedo cat in the world, Lynus.
3. I can quote “Friends” like nobody’s business.
4. I once walked from Tennessee up to Pennsylvania on the Appalachian Trail.
5. I once won a Hunger Games Charity Competition, in which I lasted 3 days and 3 nights slowly defeating all my competitors using my wit, intelligence, skill, and a ton of nerf weapons.



PJ Daley  Groups Coordinator

1. I’m a hobbyist photographer
2. I meow sometimes when surprised
3. I’ve climbed in Argentina
4. I wrote a book before college
5. I love red wine



Corey Kessler Front Desk

1. I’m originally from San Diego
2. I’m currently working towards a degree in Exercise Science from Seattle Pacific University
3. Bouldering is my one true passion
4. A fatty beach rot is one of life’s greatest pleasures
5. One day I hope to own a performance sports clinic


Nick Franko Head Instructor



Anna Sulc Front Desk


David Wilson  Front Desk


Renata Kalnin Front Desk