The coach’s mission is to support an environment for youth rock climbers where effort and knowledge are valued above all else. With this theme, we are dedicated to helping our athletes achieve their goals. With continued try-hard, learning, and positivity their desired results will follow.

We do this without losing sight of the big picture; time on the Rocks and Ropes Team is temporary after all. Only when we see a graduate of this program continue to show a strong sense of work ethic in everyday life and continue to explore the world of climbing have we really done our job.

All of our coaches are

SafeSport trained


Jon Mavko

Head Coach

With 13 years of coaching experience, Jon is dedicated to making the Rocks and Ropes Youth Team one of the strongest programs, not only in our Region, but also in the Nation. Jon has grown the size of the program from just 11 kids in 2009 to a roster of over 90 between 6 different teams.

Jon has been actively pursuing climbing since 1998, when he was introduced to the sport through a ropes course program at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson. A couple of years later, Jon was the recipient of a fortunate mentorship that, over the course of several years, would shape his outlook on the sport and take him to adventurous climbing destinations around the country. Jon was schooled in the culture of traditional climbing ethics all the while making trips to places like Squamish, the Bugaboos and Moab.

In 2002, Jon joined the first incarnation of the Rocks and Ropes Youth Team, then called the Tucson Climbing Project. In this environment, Jon expanded his field of experience with training and competition, and discovered the joys of striving together with a Team of other motivated athletes.

Jon understands that learning climbing skills through mentorship is a dying tradition in the sport, and something that he strives to promote and provide to his athletes. His passion for climbing, working with kids, and his goals to grow the program keep him motivated to bring the best experience possible to our athletes.


Kristina Bergdahl

Lead Junior & Rec Team Coach

I started my climbing career outdoors in late 2011 after a pretty severe running injury during the Mt.Lemmon Marathon; I immediately recognized that it was a sport I wanted to pursue with great passion and gusto for the rest of my life. I am blessed to have a spouse and climbing partner who has mentored me with great patience and it helps that he as wild about climbing as I am. Together we have had the opportunity to travel to amazing climbing destinations, train to become better sport and trad climbers and we have put up more than 50 new routes. Climbing is truly a sport in which your hard work, training and dedication help you to realize your goals and it is pure joy to send that project after endless sessions of hard work. I love the sport with my whole heart.

My personal love of and dedication to the sport brought me to Rocks and Ropes for my training and here I discovered my passion for teaching and coaching the sport. I enjoy every minute when working with Tucson youngest climbers; helping them create and cultivate a deep love of and respect for the sport as well the outdoors brings me much happiness. I am honored to coach the team in Tucson and work with young climbers who never ceases to amaze me.


Elissa Moss

Lead Training Team Coach, Travel Team Assistant Coach 

I started climbing in 2010 at a local gym in North Texas, and it didn’t take long for climbing to become a major factor in the way I shaped the rest of my life. I’ve been lucky enough to work in amazing climbing facilities, teach summer camps, coach teams, create branding and artwork for gyms, travel across the southwest to boulder, multi-pitch, and sport climb, and build up a network of climbing partners and friends from the different communities I have been a part of.

One of my favorite aspects of coaching is getting to witness the next generation find their place in and through our community, set and meet personal goals, and discover the gifts that only climbing brings. I feel especially grateful to have found myself in Tucson part of a supportive and talented community of teachers, mentors, and innovators who are paving the way for young climbers to achieve incredible things through this sport.


Adrian Montaño

Assistant Coach - Comp, Travel, Training & Rec Team

I moved to Tucson at 17 & was welcomed into a climbing community that was encouraging & inclusive, something that made me feel very much at home. My first day climbing was on Mount Lemmon, where I remember being halfway up a slab and thinking, "this is going to be something I never stop doing." Since then, climbing has been an instrument through which I've explored mindfulness, personal responsibility, risk assessment, and outdoor leadership skills with my partners, who I've always seen see as my "team." The importance I placed on friendship and trust as well as mental strength and physical health were what climbing demanded of me, and I liked that. The sport instilled in me an endless drive to be the best version of myself in various sectors of life, and continues to teach me more about myself, nature, and the virtues of patience, goal setting, & character development. I consider it a privilege to be a part of helping share the lessons climbing can teach with today's youth.


Emma Nakpairat

Assistant Coach - Junior Team

I began climbing at age thirteen when I wandered into a gym in my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I immediately fell in love with the movement, ethic, and community of climbing, and a year later I joined the local youth team. During my time as a youth climber, I challenged myself mentally and physically and found myself climbing at the national level. I also unlocked a passion for teaching and mentorship when I began coaching younger kids on the team. After I graduated, I brought the skills and work ethic I learned to Tucson, where I am continuing to challenge myself on sport routes on Mt. Lemmon and beyond.

Throughout my climbing career, I have been fortunate to encounter a few mentors who have greatly influenced my climbing and character. I am forever appreciative of their guidance and generosity, and the lessons I learned from them will stay with me for the rest of my life. I consider it an honor to be able to pass on the knowledge and spirit of climbing to today's youth, and I hope that our youth team members leave the program not only as great climbers but great people.


Kait Junek

Assistant Coach - Training Team  

I started my journey into climbing at age 15 when I stumbled into a job at a local gym in Texas as a birthday party host. Growing up in the flat plains of Texas, I was fully unaware of the world of rock climbing, but when I walked in for my first day, my life was changed forever as rock climbing completely became my life. I quickly found a home in the climbing community through the outpour of acceptance, love, and support I felt and experienced. Through mentorship and lifelong friendships created along the way, my love for climbing only continued to flourish. From starting as just a hobby, to climbing competitively in college, and now coaching - climbing continues to be a fundamental part of my life even after almost 10 years of working in the climbing industry.

As a coach, there is no greater joy than getting to see athletes develop, not only as climbers, but as individuals. Being able to be a part of each athlete's journey as they overcome physical and mental barriers by providing guidance, support, and simply being a friend, is why I love coaching. Knowing first hand the power that not only climbing as a sport, but as a community, can impact a life is something I hope all athletes on Team Rocks and Ropes get to experience. There is no greater joy than sharing my love for this sport and help mold the next generation of crushers pursue their passion and become life long climbers themselves.


Kathleen Kryger

 Assistant Coach - Junior & Training Team 

I began climbing in 2014 at a small local gym in Birmingham, AL. I joined the gym quickly after my first visit and found a community who became like family, including my spouse. Over the next several years, we climbed all over the southeastern US, especially at Horse Pens 40 and Sand Rock/Cherokee Rock Village. I later helped with the expansion of Birmingham’s first climbing gym; I joined the staff and became a bouldering instructor and a youth coach, which included supporting athletes through local and regional competitions. I moved to Tucson in 2018 for graduate school and have been climbing at Rocks & Ropes and the BLOC ever since.  

As a teacher and lifelong athlete, I have a great deal of respect for sport, team building, and mentorship. Climbing has given me so much: a meditative/grounding practice, a deeper love and sense of responsibility for the land, and a space to challenge myself mentally and physically. As a coach, I love helping facilitate athletes’ engagement with the sport and all it has to offer. At its core, climbing is about community, and it’s a privilege to support athletes in their personal and communal development.


Elle Knapp

Assitant Coach - Junior & Rec Team 

Climbing has always been on the fringes of my life. My parents were rock climbers in the 80s in Joshua Tree and would throw a top rope up every now and then while we were on spring break. I didn’t really develop a passion for it until 2018; I was living in Memphis, TNand my friend and I ended up tagging along on an outdoor trip with a diverse group of climbers both new and experienced. We went to a small crag in Jamestown, AR, and immediately I was hooked. I loved the challenge, both mental and physical, that climbing provides, but more importantly I loved the sense of belonging and community that I found. I would drive four to five hours every weekend to a climbing destination: the Ozarks, Jackson Falls, Obed Canyon and the Red River Gorge. Eventually I moved to Tucson for the good weather and abundant climbing.

As a coach, I want to instill that same passion that I found for climbing in the athletes, as well as the joy of being challenged. More importantly, I want to help cultivate the same welcoming community that helped me gain the experience and expertise to go out and explore on my own.


Teaguen Gross

Assistant Coach - Junior & Rec Team

I've been climbing since I was born. It started with furniture, then trees, then houses. I discovered rock climbing was a sport when I moved back to Tucson in 2012, and I've been hooked ever since. I joined the team at 17 after a couple years gymnastics and made rapid progress. I aged out after only a year but I was working on projects I never could have dreamed of climbing before. I missed the team after leaving, so I started working summer camps and was able to transition to coaching from there. Originally my passion was for bouldering, but after a few minor injuries I've become more involved with lead projects and climbing outdoors, which has only made my love of climbing even stronger.  Being a coach is such an incredible privilege for me. Every practice makes my day.