Our Mission

To provide the best climbing and fitness experience possible.

The idea for ASCEND Pittsburgh was hatched over five years ago when we recognized that Pittsburgh’s climbing community needed a place to call home. After tremendous effort and collaboration, we couldn’t be prouder to share our first location with you all. ASCEND’s South Side location will be among the top bouldering facilities in the world in terms of size, quality, amenities, and community-driven programming. ASCEND is a climbing gym run by passionate climbers who are deeply rooted in Southwestern Pennsylvania’s climbing community. The values we live by are simple: We are approachable and authentic, we respect our community, we strive for excellence, we are dedicated to safety, and we love to have fun! We look forward to meeting you all!

The Vision

We strive to provide the best climbing and fitness experience for our customers. From excellent equipment to knowledgeable staff, our gym will be a top-notch operation. The space will be one that fosters community and belonging, by being more than just a climbing gym: it’s a “third place” where customers can feel just as comfortable as they do at their workplace and their home, and where our customers want to simply be.

As a group of climbers that decided to start a gym, our values reflect a down-to-earth and authentic quality. Our gym is an extension of our love of a good day of climbing with a group of our closest friends that ends with storytelling around a campfire.

We are committed to an active lifestyle. We realize that all around fitness is key to climbing well, which is why we nurture activities like yoga, cross-training, and cardio, and promote smart nutrition and ample rest within our gym and community.

Our business will not just be run to make a profit, but to also be a benefit to its employees, members, the immediate neighborhood, and the region. We will seek to create a sustainable business model, focused on longevity and capable of growing morally and responsibly.

We see ourselves as part of a larger climbing ecosystem within the communities of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania and America. We take our roles as climbing ambassadors very seriously, and we support causes that affect our sport such as land access, environmental stewardship, local legislation, and human-rights.

Meet the Team

In 2011, Alex, Paul, and Aaron took their climbing partnerships to the next level by joining forces to build a new climbing gym in Pittsburgh, PA. At the time, picking suitable careers was proving to be difficult and we all recognized the need for someone to take Pittsburgh's climbing scene to the next level. And just like that, the concept of ASCEND was born. To us, it was a perfect union worth devoting our lives to.

Over the years, we gradually learned how to turn our aspirations into a functioning project capable of being integrated into the local business environment. While our initial vision has morphed, we've never strayed from our ultimate goal of staying closely connected to the climbing community and help improve upon the foundation our predecessors so graciously provided.

We may not be sponsored athletes or industry veterans, but we've put our hearts, brains, and sweat into building ASCEND. We are dedicated, here to stay, and climbers for life. To reach us or any of our talented staff directly, see below or stop just stop in and ask around!

Interested in joining the team? Go HERE for more.

Alex Bernstein

Director of Finance & Business Development
[email protected]

Paul Guarino

Director of Marketing & Human Resources
[email protected]

Aaron Gilmore

Director of Routesetting & Operations
[email protected]

Todd McCormick

General Manager
[email protected]

Brian Pascuzzi

Head Routesetter
[email protected]

Joanna Studeny

Yoga Director
[email protected]

Sara Middleton

Fitness Director
[email protected]


We understand that ASCEND isn’t able to provide everything for everyone. That’s not a problem though, because we have some pretty awesome friends.

  • Southwestern Pennsylvania Climbers Coalition
    Promoting responsible development and preservation of climbing and bouldering in southwestern Pennsylvania.
  • Explorers Club of Pittsburgh
    Members participate in activities as diverse as mountaineering, rock climbing, skiing, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, caving, cycling, backpacking, environmental and community service projects, and a host of outdoor sports.
  • Venture Outdoors
    A member-supported local non-profit organization working to make it easy for you to get outside.
  • BikePGH
    With a focus on Advocacy, Education, and Community, Bike Pittsburgh is transforming our streets and communities into vibrant, healthy places by making them safe and accessible for people to bike and walk.
  • Fittsburgh
    Your guide to sweat spots, healthy eats, and upcoming races in Pittsburgh.
  • Allegheny Mountain Rescue Group
    Pittsburgh-based volunteer search and rescue team that specializes in lost and missing person searches, cave rescue, and high-angle rope rescue
  • NRAC
    Preserve and promotes access to climbing areas, and to conserve climbing resources in the New River Gorge and surrounding areas.
  • Steel City Slackers
    A passionate team of slackline enthusiasts who share a love for the Pittsburgh community.