About Us

Our Staff

Ken Miller 

(Owner)

Originally from Everett, WA, Ken is the owner and founder of 1st Ascent Climbing & Fitness. Ken's passion for climbing began at a young age and has been pursuing it ever since. For almost 40 years, he travelled to many places to enjoy outdoor climbing and has now fulfilled his dream of creating his own climbing gym! Ken also has contributed to developing many climbing routes in the Libby area for the past 20 years. As the owner of KRM Builders, Ken has been able to combine both passions into one, in building 1st Ascent. His dedication to climbing is evident in how welcoming he is to new climbers, the quality of his gym, and desire to make a positive impact on his community in a variety of ways.

Ruth Miller 

(Coordinator)

Introducing Ruth, the coordinator of 1st Ascent Climbing & Fitness! Originally from Pierre, SD, Ruth grew up on a farm and has a passion for the outdoors. She enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, swimming, and even hunting. In addition, she has a green thumb and loves to garden. Ruth shares her home with Ken and their three dogs, two cats, and 12 chickens, which are all near and dear to her heart. With her enthusiasm for fitness and the outdoors, Ruth is the perfect fit for our community at 1st Ascent Climbing & Fitness. As coordinator, she looks forward to helping members achieve their goals and creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all. 

Monica Pacheco

(Manager)

Monica, who relocated from California to Libby in 2004, is passionate about her role as a manager at 1st Ascent. She adores the welcoming atmosphere and cherishes the opportunity to build connections with the members. Committed to delivering exceptional service to owners, staff, and members alike, Monica finds immense satisfaction in her role as manager at 1st Ascent. Monica has been a valuable part of the team since August of 2023 and was asked to take on the role of manager in October of the same year. Outside of work, she enjoys the joys of motherhood, hiking, camping, visiting the lake, and embarking on scenic drives through the woods.

Melissa Garrett 

(Marketing & Climbing Instructor)

Originally from San Antonio, TX, Melissa moved to Libby to be closer to the mountains. Shortly after her arrival, she met Ken, and they started climbing together. Melissa's climbing journey began in 2019 in North Carolina, where she coached young climbers at a local gym. Climbing quickly became her passion, and she jumped at the chance to help with the opening of 1st Ascent Climbing & Fitness. Outside of managing the gym, Melissa works as an instructional designer for her own company Cabinet Mountain Instructional Design & eLearning. Her experience in education and climbing instruction makes her a valuable part of the team, teaching both adults and children alike.

Jordan LeCount 

(Route Setter & Climbing Instructor)

Jordan, a Libby, MT native, discovered his passion for climbing in 2022 while exploring more outdoor activities with Ken, in addition to downhill bike racing and hiking.  Jordan has assisted in helping build 1st Ascent since day one! As the co-owner of Big Sky Media, a full-service photography and video production company, Jordan was eager to help with the technology and photography side of 1st Ascent. His passion for climbing and expertise in media makes him an invaluable member of the 1st Ascent team. 

Gary Phoenix

(Climbing Instructor)

Meet Gary, our experienced climbing instructor and friendly front desk staff member at 1st Ascent Climbing & Fitness. Originally from Hermiston, OR, Gary has been climbing since 1981 and has a deep passion for the sport. When he's not teaching climbing classes, Gary enjoys hiking, antler hunting, and kayaking in nearby rivers and lakes. Prior to joining our team, Gary had a diverse career that included planting trees and working as a machinist until retirement. Notably, Gary and fellow climber Ken have developed many climbing routes around the Libby area together, further showcasing Gary's dedication to the climbing community. 


Bri Hardesty 

(Front Desk)

Born in Ohio, Bri now calls Libby her home. In her free time, she enjoys the company of friends and her adorable dog. Bri has worked part-time for 1st Ascent since the beginning, where she values the welcoming atmosphere and the chance to connect with members. Her full-time commitment is at Head Start, where she's making a meaningful impact in her community.

Maggie Fantozzi

(Front Desk)

Maggie, a Libby native, is currently a student at Libby High School. She's been with 1st Ascent since day one and spends much of her free time in extracurricular activities, with soccer playing a significant role in her life. Maggie values staying active and enjoys the fellowship of like-minded individuals.

Alyssa Nordwick

(Front Desk)

Alyssa was born in Polson, Montana, but has lived here most of her life. She is a Senior at Libby High School and loves to snowboard in her free time. What Alyssa loves the most about working at the gym is helping others and maintaining a safe and clean environment for all the members.

Sam Peifer

(Front Desk & Climbing Instructor)

Sam, originally from Nevada and with military experience, loves being outdoors, spending quality time with his wife and dogs, and helping out with Libby's Search and Rescue team. 

His expertise in mountain rescue seamlessly shapes the impact he makes in the gym.

Sevan McLean

(Head Route Setter & Climbing Instructor)


Dakota Stoshick

(Route Setter & Climbing Instructor)


Devi McCully

(Yoga & Pilates Instructor)