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Philip Carrier


As a second generation Southern Illinois climber, I have a unique perspective on the area and its history.  The first time I touched rock was at Giant City State Park at the age of three with my father, Alan Carrier, who started climbing at the same cliff twenty years earlier.  The climbing bug hit hard when I was ten, and together we climbed old classics and new, across the many climbing areas Southern Illinois has to offer.

Southern Illinois has hosted every stage of my development as a climber and it will always be home.  My passions have evolved to developing sport routes and boulder problems as well as scouring the woods for new rock. 

As a board member of the ICA since 2007, my goal is to represent the community in an even and well-balanced manner.  My specific interests are anchor maintenance and replacement, and expanding climbing access.  For the past two years, I have been the competition director for the ICA’s Holy Boulders competition.  In 2014 The Second Testament raised $15,000 to help preserve access to the Holy Boulders.

I am honored to serve on the board of the ICA.  Our organization represents a climbing community that has always been open, positive and supportive.  In my service to the ICA, I strive to do the same.
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Kelly Bliss


Kelly came to Southern Illinois in 2004 so attend Southern Illinois University at Carbondale after her term in the Army. She discovered all the amazing outdoor recreation, such as rock climbing, that Southern Illinois has to offer as well as met her husband! She has been part owner of an outdoor guiding service to Southern Illinois and owner of Lusk Creek publishing, the company that brought us Sandstone Warrior.
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Brice Dion

Vice President

I came to southern Illinois in 1994 after service in the US Navy and chose to attend SIUC so that I could climb as much as possible and get far away from the corn fields that I was surrounded by in my hometown of Newton IL. I learned to climb in 1986 at Sam's Throne AR on a christian camp trip. After that first experience, I came to southern Il. as much as possible to climb wherever I could. Places like Garden of the Gods, Pounds Hollow, Stoneface, and High Knob were some of the areas that I explored in the early days.

While I was in the Navy, stationed in New Orleans, I would drive to southern Illinois whenever I had a long weekend and drag whoever I could with me to climb as much as possible during a weekend. I was introduced to Jackson Falls during this time and that experience sealed the deal for me to choose to attend SIUC after I got out of the Navy. After starting school in Carbondale, I made the trip to the Falls as often as I could. I quickly started learning the ropes of sport climbing and pushing through the grades as I learned. I had the opportunity to be involved in the development of the Promised Land, and make a couple of first ascents at the Falls as well. I've also made several road trips to places like the New River Gorge, the Red River Gorge, Heuco Tanks, Maple Canyon, and the Enchanted Tower.
Climbing has led me to many amazing and beautiful areas of the country, and given me many great people I am beyond proud to call my friends. Now 20 years later, I feel like its time for me to give back and provide my time and service to the ICA and serve the community that has given me so much. I look forward to working on issues relating to our relationship with the US Forest Service, including access, bolting policies, and hardware replacement. I also am hopeful that our efforts towards raising funds to secure the Holy Boulders can be successful and that amazing area can be preserved.
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Matt Bliss

Land Manager Liason

Matt Bliss began climbing in Southern Illinois at the early age of 13. He quickly gained the necessary skills to conquer some of the hardest routes in the area, and took those skills out West, traveling for months on end. Upon returning to Southern Illinois in 2000, he decided to focus on the untapped bouldering potential in the area. He has since pioneered many of the areas finest bouldering areas, along with authoring "Sandstone Warrior: A Bouldering Guide to Southern Illinois. Matt also enjoys several other outdoor activities such as, whitewater kayaking, fly fishing and hunting.
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Kristi Sierzega


Kristi’s passion for climbing ignited in 2006 during her first trip to Jackson Falls. Since, Kristi has climbed throughout the country and parts of the world. However, no other community was comparable to the generosity, kindness, and jovial attitude found in southern Illinois. Because of this, Kristi and her partner Kevin have made their home in southern Illinois. Kristi is committed to preserving the community, land, and ethics of southern Illinois rock climbing.
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Kevin Sierzega

An outdoor enthusiast since a child, Kevin picked up climbing via a University of Illinois club trip to Jackson Falls in 2006. Climbing remained central in his life and travels, taking him across the country and globe. He and his partner, Kristi, returned full-circle to Carbondale, IL in summer of 2012, and have since been inspired by the impeccable rock quality, over-whelming generous community, and endless natural beauty found in the area. Kevin offers a diverse skill set to the board including expertise in local ecology and management via his graduate research studies, a passion for the arts and video media, and a diligent work ethic. He is motivated by the importance of climbers as land stewards and believes it is our responsibility to conserve the areas we recreate in.

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Dave Hug

My love and appreciation for the outdoors stems back to the early years of my life. I grew up in a family that enjoyed hunting, fishing, canoeing, camping, hiking, and exploring nature to its fullest. This passion to experience nature is what motivated me to rock climb.

I didn't start climbing until I enrolled at the University of Wyoming in 2008, but quickly found myself hooked after some friends took me climbing at Vedauwoo, Devils Tower, and in Moab. Upon going back home for holiday breaks, I learned about local Illinois climbing and decided to check out Jackson Falls. Although back then J.F. was hard to find, it was worth the trip. I was blown away by the amount of routes and beauty of the canyon, and after that trip I knew it was time to move back home.

Since returning home I’ve always done my best to give back to the community that has given me so much. Illinois is a special place and I am excited about what the future holds for our rock climbing here.

It’s been an honor to serve as a board member and I have done so since 2011. My specific interests include paying off our loan to the Access Fund for the Holy’s and re-bolting at Jackson Falls, but I also focus much time working  with Site Superintendents to improve climbing access at the state level. My focus at Giant City includes trail work, route cleaning, graffiti removal and other collaborative work efforts. Since 2015 I have been the project leader for Pere Marquette, which includes overseeing route and trail development, grant seeking, bolting, and overall the creation of Illinois next great climbing area.

I am proud of our climbing and to call Illinois home. For as long as I am with the ICA I will continue to do my part to conserve our climbing.
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Doug Rothe

I came late to the world of climbing, at least rock climbing. As Leif Faber notes, when you are in central Illinois surrounded by corn fields, with an inner climber trying to get out, there aren’t a lot of options. I always climbed things though; pole barns on the farm, trees in the yard and timber, corn cribs, even shinnying up the skinny Chinese Elm to get to the porch roof to get back in the bedroom window (but that is a different story). During a road trip back in 1998, on the recommendation of a friend I stopped in to Jackson Hole and the Tetons, and was intrigued by the Exum Grand Teton package, which I did the next year. I was bitten by the climbing bug, but all I knew was to go out west on my annual vacation, hire a guide to teach me more, and do routes in the Tetons, down in Moab, and at City of Rocks. A fortunate series of circumstances and coincidences several years later led me to Dave Downey who introduced me to Jackson Falls, and the whole southern Illinois environment was opened up to me. I have made many good friends and acquaintances in the last ten+ years, and enjoyed many wonderful experiences along the way. Road trips now are with those friends to Red River Gorge and Muir Valley, City of Rocks, Sinks Canyon, and of course weekend trips to The Falls.
The opportunity to serve and in some manner return that is why I am a part of the ICA board. Living in Springfield, I am also closer to the northern parks as they consider opening up climbing, as Pere Marquette did in November, 2016.With guidance from the ICA and other key people, we can expand the opportunities for our sport and recreation to other areas of the state.

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Abbie Spiwak

I began climbing nearly 7 years ago at the small local climbing gym in my hometown of Crystal Lake, Illinois. I fell in love with the sport as soon as I started. Soon after I began climbing, I joined the climbing team and began competing in the USA Climbing circuit. After deciding that my love for climbing went beyond the wall, I took to traveling the country to explore as many climbing areas as I could. I learned that climbing community is made up of the people I find myself most at home with. I landed in Southern Illinois to pursue my love of climbing in an area with the greatest sandstone, the best community, and the most climbing in any direction I could find. Of course, alongside climbing I am studying to become a Registered Dietitian at Southern Illinois University. Being a part of the ICA means a lot to me because climbing is what I love to do most. I want to be able to share the amazing climbing that Illinois has to offer us with the present and the future generations of climbers. It is our responsibility as climbers to protect the areas we use and keep them safe for everyone to continue to enjoy for many years to come.
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David Quinney