People seem to always be curious…”Why ‘EVO?'”
The story goes something like this:
It was in New Hampshire of 1910 when the first technical climb was completed and recorded in the United States. There, on the intimidating slopes of the Huntington Ravine within Mount Washington, climbing began. Were we there? No. Was our inspiration? You betchya. At EVO Rock + Fitness, we believe that we have all evolved from this larger history, and we invite you to join the evolution of this sport as it continues to amaze us.
We know that everyone has untapped potential inside of them—it’s only a matter of discovering it. Our gyms provide the framework for people of all ages and abilities to discover that potential through climbing in an encouraging, non-intimidating environment.
Historically, climbing has revolved around community and camaraderie almost more than climbing itself. Stories of sketchy ascents, near-death experiences, or sending a cruxy boulder problem cannot be told without talking about the people who were there. Profound relationships will always be an integral part of being a climber, and EVO celebrates this fact by hosting ongoing social events for the climbing community throughout the year.
Our Portland gym is special because it evolved from the Maine Rock Gym, (MRG), built in 1994. The climbing community had gotten so big that the MRG needed to expand to a larger facility, which became EVO. The soul of the MRG community lives on at EVO with the ownership, the staff, and community.
Regardless of who you are or where you come from, we’re all climbers, (maybe you just haven’t discovered it yet!) and we all play a part in this story…this culture…this ongoing evolution.
What’s your story? Tell us at #myevolution
Our Mission is Simple: Empowering people. Strengthening communities.
- Scott HowardManaging Partner
Scott Howard was part of the urchin diving industry when he recognized the necessity for a climbing gym in Portland, Maine. According to Howard, many urchin divers were climbers, but had to travel far to reach a facility. He put his heart, soul, and bank account into creating the Maine Rock Gym (MRG), which came to fruition in September 1994. Howard credits the tenacity of Mainers to the completion of the MRG. However, as the community grew, he realized an even bigger and better facility was needed. He teamed up with Hilary Harris, Mike Lambert, and Keith Morris—momentum grew.
In 2015 EVO Rock + Fitness opened and there was much rejoicing. Howard’s vision for EVO revolves around what the climbing community needs to move upward and stay strong. In addition to helping manage the EVO squad, he runs a commercial greenhouse called Olivia’s Garden, and is also a fly fishing guide. In his spare time, he enjoys skiing, mountain biking, being with his 3 kids, and eating bok choy.
- Michael LambertPartner, Gym to Crag Program Coordinator
Michael Lambert grew up sailing in Rhode Island but fell for climbing in 1995 when he moved to Arizona, where he obtained his B.A. in Adventure Education from Prescott College. When he graduated in 1999, climbing had become a pivotal part of his life. Despite some extensive globetrotting, Shagg Crag in Maine and Cathedral Ledge in New Hampshire remain two of Michael’s favorite spots. However, he says it’s the people, even more than the locations, that make climbing truly special; hence his excitement about joining the EVO team. His stoke thrives on Maine’s climbing community and anyone who’s looking to throw on a pair of shoes.
Michael’s diverse experience as a sailing instructor, boat builder, sail-maker, arborist and small business-owner are invaluable; he’ll jump into anything from SketchUp architectural redesigns to building campus boards to playing Tetris with flooring. Michael’s high standards ensure that he will help EVO Portland continually grow as the sport of climbing flourishes, pushing standards in both the facility and the programming.
- Hilary Harris Founder, CEO EVO Rock + Fitness, Inc. , Partner, EVO Portland
Hilary Harris is both a long-time climber and licensed architect. Her climbing career started in Boulder, CO in the late 80’s. Gaining rapid recognition and success, Harris was one of a handful of women pioneers in the country, raising the bar on female standards in the sport. Harris has been coaching for more than 20 years and has coached youth to the World Cup level. She has also climbed and trained extensively throughout the US and Europe with the world’s top climbers. When she is not busy working on business relations you can often find her at one of the great crags in New England, hiking or sea kayaking the coast of Maine.
Harris oversees the communications, marketing and outreach of the EVO gyms. She works on future climbing gym start-ups and oversees the corporate relations of the business; all the while striving to live by these words written by David Henry Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
- Cort GariepyPartner, Wall Designer and Builder
Cort Gariepy is a man of many talents and trades, whose work is all over EVO Rock + Fitness. From the front desk we check into, to the walls we climb on, and the chairs we sit in, Gariepy’s welding hand has touched everything. After designing and building the walls, he used the extra steel to make recycled-rope benches and arm chairs. He built the retail area, (with a pretty sweet LED back-lit display), and introduced Hilary Harris to Scott Howard, which pretty much got the whole EVO Portland ball rollin’.
Gariepy loves the EVO family, and says it’s a segment of the greater climbing community that seems to have a “very warm soul.” He loves the energy of climbers, and how they’re such an assorted mix; all “bound together,” yet going in their own diversified directions. Gariepy says he hasn’t grown up yet, but in the meantime, you might find him at his house in Hawaii. His recommendation for the new climber? “Watch YouTube climbing videos for lingo.”
- Keith MorrisPartner, Outreach Coordinator
Keith Morris was born and raised in England but moved to Maine in 2004 to be closer to his family. His daughter was here in Portland, having married Scott Howard, who (at the time) was founder and owner of Maine Rock Gym (MRG). Morris bought half of MRG and became involved with the rock climbing community. He was thrilled when MRG and EVO Rock + Fitness combined forces, saying the best parts of MRG came to EVO. He enjoys every moment of the mixed environment at the facility. “Where else can you find rock climbing and tango?” Morris asks.
As a dedicated grandparent, he especially loves the opportunity kids have at EVO, and how climbing is a passion they can pursue for many years—not to mention the portable climbing wall—Morris loves the portable climbing wall! He also enjoys Bradbury State Park, Great Wolf Lodge, peanuts, (but really hates peanut butter). His advice to the new climber? “Take classes to minimize risk, and learn from those with experience.”
- Karen AbbottOperations Manager
Karen Abbott is a southern transplant from a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, and first found climbing when she was just 13 years old. Growing up in the Mountains meant growing up outside for Abbott, and it wasn’t until college that she experienced an indoor rock gym. After college, she traveled to New Zealand, then explored the great US of A, living everywhere from Montana to Hawaii—eventually settling in South Carolina. She’s been an executive pastry chef, a baking & pastry instructor, a teacher, and a business owner of her own cake company.
Despite her love for cake, Abbott says EVO Rock + Fitness happened by fate, and she couldn’t be happier. For her, it’s witnessing the growth of members whether it is through climbing, yoga, or fitness that brings her such joy. Other things that bring her joy include her children, her 175lb Great Dane, welding, and tattoos. Her advice to the new climber? “Be open to new experiences and people.”
- Chris PertAssistant Manager, Private Instruction
Chris Pert is a certified AMGA Single Pitch Guide and USA Climbing Level 1 Routesetter. He was born and raised here in Maine and started climbing as a kid on the cliffs of Acadia. After completing his degree in jazz trumpet in 2005 (fun fact) he began working at a gym in Boston as Head Routesetter and climbing coach.
He has since made a career around climbing. When not at the gym, you can find Pert out running, playing the trumpet, or being a dad. Pert is allergic to avocados, and offers this advice to the new climber: “Focus on technique.”
- Joscelyn PizzinoFront of House Manager, Social Media + Event Coordinator
Joscelyn, originally from California, started climbing in 2014 at a tiny climbing gym in her hometown. She immediately fell in love with the community and hasn’t looked back since. When not working at EVO and climbing, Joscelyn enjoys backpacking, hiking and road tripping and almost always has her dog, Bosley, along for the adventure. She is also a passionate advocate for conscious living, wilderness conservation, and animal rights. If you see Joscelyn (or Bosley) around the gym, don’t hesitate to stop and chat!
Her advice to the new climber? “Everyone progresses at their own pace, don’t be afraid to ask questions!”
- Chuck CurryInstructor, Route Setter, Adult Training, Team EVO Coach
Chuck originally hails from the great state of New York but has recently made his home here in Maine… for a second time!
A devoted husband and proud father of two, Chuck has been immersed in many aspects of climbing for 13 years. From trad to sport, bouldering to plastic, guiding to coaching: he’s had a hand in it. Here at EVO, you can find Chuck setting or coaching our kid’s Club EVO members. Route setting has been a cornerstone of Chuck’s skill set for many years. However, he still strives to grow and evolve every time he picks up his drill.If you have questions and you see Chuck in the gym, grab him! He generally keeps to himself but loves answering your questions about climbing or anything else for that matter. “I want to do whatever I can to get people hooked on climbing. I know how it feels to unlock certain parts of the sport. But it doesn’t happen overnight, you have to fight for it. It doesn’t matter how long you have been climbing, you still get those feelings. I want to help flip the switch and see the light come on, to instill something in someone that they can take with them always, no matter where life takes them. Welcome to Climbing!”
- Julia SchwarzYouth Program Director, Instructor, Front Desk
Julia started climbing while she was in college at a gym in Eastern Massachuesetts, and has since loved the challenges and accomplishments she’s found through the sport.
It was the friendly, passionate atmosphere of the climbing community that lead Julia to join the EVO team after moving to Portland in the summer of 2018. Julia has her degree in elementary education and loves transferring her experience of working with kids in the classroom towards her old as Youth Programs Director. Julia loves helping to get kids stoked on the sport, and support their personal goals as young climbers!
If you see Julia at the gym, come up and say hello!
- Trevor BosticRoute Setter, Instructor, School League
Trevor grew up bouncing around the U.S. but finally settled in Maine, where he discovered his love for climbing at Maine Rock Gym. He was instantly hooked, and his love for the sport only grew while attending college in Boston. It’s now been 10 years and Trevor’s climbing has taken him all over the world, introduced him to some of the best people, and supplied him with memories to last a lifetime. His favorite thing about climbing is seeing people push their limits both physically and mentally. Trevor is always looking to share his passion for climbing with others! If you see him around the gym, don’t hesitate to ask questions or even just talk beta.
“No matter if you are just starting or a bona fide crusher, try hard respects try hard. Join me in the bouldering area, on the yoga mat, or outside and lets push our limits together!”
- Chris KelleherInstructor, Front DeskChris Kelleher moved to Portland in 2014, where he discovered climbing. Kelleher loves the peace, serenity, and challenges climbing brings to his life. When he’s not working at the gym, he’s dedicating time to a local nonprofit called Boys to Men; not to be confused with the 90’s boy band. He also works for Family Crisis Services, based in Portland, and was covering someone’s shift during this interview so a fellow coworker could go climbing. He’s just that kinda guy.
Random fact: he spent the night camping in the second coldest temps ever recorded in New Hampshire and now his fingers don’t feel the same. His advice to the new climber? “Don’t be discouraged by the pain you feel in your body. Stick with it. Ask questions. Come hang out at the gym.”
- Emmett HuberInstructor, Front Desk
Emmett Huber grew up on Peaks Island—a true Mainer! He now lives in Portland and started climbing in early 2015. Huber loves the energetic, positive, welcoming attitude of the climbing community, especially at EVO. When he’s not workin’ the ropes at our gym, he’s painting houses and perfecting his skills in martial arts. (No big deal, but he went to school in Thailand for two years, became an expert kickboxer, and totally has your back.)
Huber’s advice for the new climber? “Don’t be afraid to try something that might be out of your league…otherwise; you’ll never get better.”
- Elliott BoardmanInstructor, Front Desk, Tall Boi
Elliott grew up in the Portland area and began his climbing career in 2016. Since then, climbing has become one of his major passions and has led to many new friendships and experiences! Elliott is currently studying Environmental Science at UNE and is hoping to combine his passion for climbing and conservation work in the future. When not climbing or in the gym, Elliott can be found studying, listening to the Grateful Dead, or staring longingly out a window waiting for good climbing temps (usually all at once.)
Some of his favorite local spots to climb are North Conway and Shagg Crag! If you see Elliott around the gym, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation! (He’s the really tall, strong guy)
Elliott’s advice to the new climber? Don’t get discouraged or frustrated by failure, it’s all a part of the process!
Environmental stewardship is at the core of our business philosophy, and it extends to our educational programs, purchasing policies, and building design.
We believe climbing lives beyond the walls of our gym. Respecting the outdoor crags that we all enjoy as a community is an essential part of keeping the sport of climbing alive. We fully endorse Leave No Trace ethics throughout our educational programs and policies.
We are very conscious about the environmental and social impacts of what we buy. That is why you will see products that are organic, recycled, locally made, and non-toxic throughout our gym.
If you have questions or concerns about a product we use or carry, please let us know.
EVO Rock + Fitness has been designed and built to the highest environmental performance standards of any climbing gym in New England. We started by designing a building that is oriented to the south so the building can optimize daylight and solar heat gain during the winter. During the summer months, the sun can be more easily controlled on the south side, which ensures that we can keep the building as cool as possible before turning on the AC.
Our roof is also facing south so we can add solar panels to the building in the future.
Landscaping uses drought-tolerant native plants, so an irrigation system is unnecessary.
Our mechanical system meets high-efficiency ratings above and beyond code requirements. During the summer months when there is a demand for cooler air the system is designed to bring in outdoor fresh air that is able to cool the building naturally. Our air filtration system is designed to filter the chalk that is generated in a climbing gym, so it goes into the filter and not your lungs!
Our lighting systems use the most efficient fluorescents available on the market along with LED’s in select locations. The fluorescents are modern with high-quality color rendering which makes people look like their natural selves instead of the older type of lights that make the skin look green.
Our interior finishes are non-toxic, emitting very little amounts of volatile organic compounds; this keeps our indoor air clean and fresh to make your workout the best it can be.
All water fixtures meet or exceed the highest standards as defined by the LEED Green Building System.
EVO is always excited to bring new people to our tribe. We are a visionary company that believes our evolution hinges on having the best team possible: upbeat, professional humans who have fun, climb, and check their egos at the door. We are seeking staff that is self-motivated, organized and want to be a part of the larger community of climbing and fitness. If there is not a posted position that you are currently interested in, please submit your application, and we will keep it on file for when an opening becomes available.