Kevin Pickren – General Manager
Originally from North Carolina, Kevin’s climbing career began in 1997 when his father surprised the kids with a guided outdoor climbing trip. It only took one climb in Estes Park, CO to know that climbing would become a lifelong passion. 20 years later, Kevin has had the opportunity to visit many phenomenal climbing areas including Red River Gorge KY, New River Gorge WV, Horse Pens 40, Hueco Tanks TX, and many more.
After years of grinding in corporate America, Kevin made the decision to combine passion and career by joining Central Rock Gym in 2011 while finishing an MBA from UMass Amherst. He strives everyday to create an experience at Central Rock Gym that allows visitors to experience the joys of climbing much like he did that day in Estes Park. When he manages to pry himself away from the gym you’ll typically find him hiking in the White Mountains, mountain biking, or launching into house renovation projects.
Steve Barry – Assistant Manager
Born and raised in Maine, Steve has spent most of his life learning to poke fun at people from Massachusetts. With that being said, he’s been known to make segues that don’t really make sense. It was about ten years ago when he found rock climbing via top ropes in a sixteen foot tall wall at a YMCA in Old Town, Maine. His climbing gym glory days started as a full time belayer and quickly flourished as he encountered more and more climbing gyms with larger operations.
Today he identifies as a sport climber and enjoys pantomiming beta, talking about beta, spraypoints, bluepoints, teaching anything rock climbing related, watching other people climb, “flash or no flash”, and also trying hard as often as he can. He loves his family, sewing, jiu jitsu, bicycles, and of course rock climbing. Go talk with him.
Sofia Maluf – Youth Programs Coordinator
Sofia has spent her last several summers working as a coordinator and instructor with different youth organizations. These organizations specialize in changing youth participants’ lives through challenge and discovery both indoors and out, with a focus on healing through community, and celebrating the fun and friendship of childhood.
Sofia found CRG and began her rock climbing professional development (both through climbing and employment) sometime in the last six years, though the specific start time has been long forgotten. She probably hails from New England but we don’t know for sure.
When she’s not coaching or climbing at the gym, Sofia is probably answering (read: dodging) questions about where she’s actually from, and when she started climbing. Her catchphrase: “Let’s go-go!”
Emily Allen – Social Media Coordinator
Peter Schmalzried – Head Route Setter
Peter hails from the flatlands of the Midwest and spent many college weekends on the steep jugs of the Red River Gorge. He has been climbing since 2008 and has led both beginner and advanced trips all over the country. Since 2011, he has been organizing colored plastic bits (aka Route setting) on anything from tiny home walls to the largest gyms in the country. He is the Head Route Setter for the Watertown facility and Cambridge. You can find his rope climbs and boulders in Cambridge, Watertown, and Randolph
When he’s not setting you’ll find him teaching private lessons, biking around Arlington, traveling to see family, or raising his new baby!
Frankie Caiazzo – Competitive Team Head Coach
In 2003, the little girl across the street invited Frankie to the local rock gym and she’s been at it ever since. After high school, Frankie moved to Boston to get her computer science degree from Tufts University. She fell in love with the city of Somerville and with coaching rock climbing. She joined the CRG Watertown coaching staff and found that she just couldn’t leave, culminating in her becoming the head coach in 2019. Wearing a harness and clipping draws will always be her first love, but working with the next generation’s climbers motivates her more than anything. If you’re looking for an easy topic of conversation, bring up her farm share. If you’re looking for a way to her heart, buy her a cup of coffee. And if you are looking for a little advice about how to grow as a climber just ask.
Megan Jones – Climbing Instruction Coordinator
Entering college she knew what she had to do and dual majored in Environmental Science and Rock Climbing. It all came together when she took an internship in South Africa. She got an education both in the office and out on the world’s best sandstone. Her current life goals are to continue globe trotting, never miss an opportunity to climb outdoors, and find a bike route through Boston that doesn’t have wind, stoplights, or cars (and to never stop dreaming).
Alejandro Smal – Customer Service Representative
Alejandro is a Boston-born, South-African-raised artist and outdoor adventurer. After completing a BFA degree in design at Northeastern University and achieving success in providing creative direction for a variety of organizations and business entities, he decided to complement his career endeavors with a role that enables him to share his passion for outdoor recreation and the rock climbing community with others—leading him to join the Central Rock Gym team in 2019.
In his spare time he enjoys hiking year-round and burning through media recommendations.
Alec Sullivan – Instructor & Digital Media Specialist
Alec was raised in the dark forests of New England. Growing up as a skateboarder allowed for an active lifestyle before attending college in Philadelphia at Temple University, where he discovered climbing. After receiving his degree in Film and Media Arts, Alec spent four years living in Los Angeles working as a musician and climbing instructor. He returned home to Massachusetts in 2017 and joined the Central Rock Gym team shortly after. Aside from climbing and music, Alec’s passions include Halloween, horror, and food.
Alec is a boulderer and sport climber who enjoys pulling on rocks both outdoors and indoors. As an instructor, he tends to focus primarily on efficient technique and fear management. His favorite types of climbs are hidden, untouched boulders in the hard-to-find chasms of the woods.
Evan Keyes – Route Setter & Advanced Youth Team Head Coach
Born in the southwest desert, Evan moved to New England for its cheery folk and temperate climes. Upon finishing college in Connecticut, he wandered up to Boston and began climbing and working at CRG. Soon after he was introduced to the joys (sweat, and occasionally tears) of routesetting and coaching. He now pursues these passionately, seeking to create movements that challenge and intrigue, and nurture climbers to be their best.
Evan’s climbing tastes evolve, but he most fancies the slabs, dihedrals, and vertical terrain. Be sure to say hello when you see him climbing at the local crags. If he’s up to something that isn’t related to climbing, it’s probably reading the newspaper, hanging out with good friends, or searching for his telephone.
Vito Williams – Route Setter & Climbing Team Coach
Hailing from the flat lands of New Hampshire, Vito fell in love with climbing at a young age when he began to conquer (Read: totter up, sometimes on two legs other times on all fours) the small hills behind his childhood home. Life had other plans however, and soon sled hills were forgotten for flatter landscapes. Only upon attending college in one of the states with the least elevation, Rhode Island, was he reminded of the need to continue skyward. Climbing and the community surrounding it have been an integral part of his day to day in the 8 years that followed.