Meet Our Staff

Tyler Carson – Shift Supervisor, Instructor, Coach


Melissa Deitzer – Summer Camp Counselor, Instructor

Melissa started working at RockQuest in 2011 as a Summer Camp Counselor and Belay Instructor.  Having grown up around the climbing community, Melissa loves the climbing culture, including learning from experienced climbers, and teaching new climbers how to stay safe and have a great time.  Along with frequenting the Red River Gorge, she has also had the chance to climb in Colorado.  An adventurer at heart, Melissa also enjoys hiking, camping, rafting, kayaking, and trail running in national parks.

Andy Dinkgrave – Instructor


Gavin Docherty – Shift Supervisor, Instructor

Gavin started working at RockQuest in the fall of 2012. He has had previous experience working as a lifeguard and a camp counselor, and is currently a Firefighter/EMT at a few local fire departments.  Gavin takes advantage of every opportunity to learn something new and is currently studying to be a paramedic. He loves the interaction and connection he gets to have with a diverse group of people every day, whether it’s by belaying for a birthday party, or by simply talking to customers from behind the counter. Gavin enjoys the atmosphere and the internal challenges that climbing offers. He is captivated by the understanding that climbing is constant learning experience for everyone. If you happen to hear a unique laugh echoing throughout the gym, there’s a good chance it’s Gavin.




Becca Ewart – Youth Program Coordinator, Shift Supervisor, Head Coach

Becca began climbing at RockQuest in 2010.  Since then she has made countless trips to the Red River Gorge and beyond, spending as much time climbing outside as possible.  Becca’s capability to work well with climbers of all ages and abilities has been demonstrated in her time spent here at RockQuest. Her time as a competitive gymnast has helped her not only excel in her own climbing, but also to help train others to be their best. Her patience and positive attitude help to maintain a friendly learning environment!



Taylor Frohmiller-Route Setter, Instructor, Coach


Michael Hargis-Instructor

Michael is new to the RockQuest crew, and he is so excited to be on board. He loves climbing, and tries to get to the Red as much as possible. He doesn’t have a preference between bouldering or sport climbing, he loves it all. Michael excels at working with new climbers to show them the ropes. He really enjoys sharing climbing with everyone he meets.


Ryan Helms – Instructor

Ryan began working at RockQuest during the summer of 2009 and has been instructing since the fall of 2013. While Ryan has not had a significant amount of outdoor climbing experience (yet), he knows our gym like the back of his hand. Ryan excels at adapting to different learning styles and is patient enough to figure out the way in which you learn the best.  His professional manner is not to be outdone by his fun and witty personality. Ryan primarily uses the gym as an alternative way to get a fulfilling workout.  If you are looking for a laid-back and fun learning experience Ryan is the right instructor for you!

Tanner Helms-Instructor

Tanner started as a belayer for birthday parties. While he is a great belayer and instructor, he’s not a fan of heights, and much prefers to boulder. So if you’re looking for this guy, he’s probably not far from the ground. Tanner loves to take show new people around and help them to feel more comfortable in the gym.  The campers love him as a counselor in our summer camp. He is looking forward to taking his climbing skills outdoors soon!

Taylor Howe – Instructor

Taylor is the bubbly girl you see behind the desk. She has been at RockQuest for a few years and has worked very hard to learn as much as possible about the sport she loves, and help others to do the same. She is happy to answer any questions and loves to teach people new things. As a returning Summer Camp Counselor, she looks forward to helping all the campers have as much fun as she’s having. She’s looking forward to taking her climbing skills outside more this year.

David Huff – Head Route Setter

David has a deep love for this sport. In addition to his 7 years of route-setting experience, he has 10 years of rock climbing experience, including bouldering, sport climbing, and single- and multi-pitch traditional climbing. Climbing has taken him all over the country, to North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and California. Each destination offers its own distinctive type of rock, providing a completely unique style of movement. This diversity of experience opens up the mind to a whole spectrum of movements which the body can perform, and applying this concept as a route setter creates great diversity among the many routes at RockQuest.




Andy Lockwood – Route Setter, Instructor

Kelsey McDonough-Instructor

Kelsey got her RockQuest debut at 2 years old, by 3 she was tying herself in. She is still learning all about climbing. Kelsey spent a successful season as a competitive climber, but enjoys climbing for fun. As one of our Mini-Camp Counselors, she has a gift with working with the youngest of climbers. She is patient with them and helps them to reach their goals. As an instructor, Kelsey is patient and willing to take as much time is needed to make sure you are comfortable with your environment and new skills.

Valerie McDonough – General Manager

Valerie began climbing at RockQuest in 1998, and fell in love with the sport. Soon after she joined the Adjunct Staff and worked her way up as an Instructor, Shift Supervior, and took over as General Manager in 2006. She loves the Red River Gorge, but Seneca Rocks has a special place in her heart, trad climbing will always be her favorite. Although raising 4 crazy girls doesn’t allow much extra climbing time, she still loves it and sharing it with as many people as possible. She really enjoys the community at RockQuest, her second family, and loves seeing the sport grow and to be a part of it. Valerie truly believes anyone can climb, and they should!

Leah Merchant -Instructor

Katie Pearson – Shift Supervisor, Instructor

Sarah Rottenberger-Shift Supervisor, Community Coordinator

Sarah started climbing as a young kid and hasn’t stopped. She has traveled across the country climbing and can’t wait to do it again! She is one of the strongest female climbers in the area, (but don’t tell her that, she’ll just deny it) While she trains hard to achieve her own climbing goals, she also enjoys training others and pushing others to achieve their goals. She really enjoys sharing information and she has a lot of it. She knows as much about RockQuest as she does about climbing. If you have a question about climbing, Sarah has the answer!


Jonathan Schneller – Assistant Manager

Jonathan has been climbing for over eight years and instructing professionally for over seven. He has climbed at several prestigious areas including New River Gorge, WV and Rifle, CO, but he feels most at home on the Corbin sandstone of the Red River Gorge, KY. Jonathan has is very knowledgeable in the technical aspects of climbing. From gear, to set up, and rigging, if you have a question about climbing, belaying, gear, and more, Jonathan is your guy.



  • Climbing Wall Instructor Provider
  • Attended AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Course


Hannah Weeger – Shift Supervisor, Instructor

Hannah has been in the RockQuest family since she was a camper at our summer camp. Now more than ten years later she is back behind the counter. Hannah has climbed all over, she really enjoys trad climbing and gets outside to climb as much as possible. Hannah is knowledgeable about everything in climbing and loves to chat about her travels. Hannah teaches lead climbing lessons as well as private technique lessons.

Mike Wheatley – Route Setter, Instructor