Garrett Bennett -
Senior Guide / Co-Founder
Garrett began climbing at age 12 and has more than two decades of experience rock climbing, canyoneering and hiking in over ten countries, across five different continents. He is certified in high angle rescue, confined space rescue, and is a certified Wilderness First Responder through the Wilderness Medical Institute of the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Garrett graduated from Arizona State University with honors and prior to founding CenterFocus, he had eight years of guiding experience working for multiple adventure companies. Garrett has also guided in the jungles of Central America. Garrett was a manager of the Climbmax - Climbing Center in Phoenix. Additionally, he had been the lead climbing guide for various climbing programs where he certified and trained other guides. He has worked with the United States Forest Service as a Wildland firefighter for five seasons where he also served as an orienteering instructor. His attention to detail is impeccable, his commitment to client satisfaction is unabating, and his passion for the wilderness is never-ending which is why he earned his certification as an ACA Certified Pro Guide. He somehow manages to get 30 hours of work done every day and has for the past five years. When he's not guiding Garrett can be found cleaning up local canyons and researching environmental law.
David Malpas -
Dave, a native of New Jersey, graduated from the University of Mass., Amherst before moving to Arizona. He has been climbing for over 15 years and hiking for well over 20. Dave has had several years of guiding experience with various southwest adventure companies. Dave's outdoor leadership skills were honed at a young age in scouting where he achieved the highest rank of Eagle Scout. He is a former firefighter/EMT, and also worked for the United States Forest Service as a Wildland firefighter and CPR instructor. Dave has climbed extensively around the United States and in Europe, and recently spent time sailing throughout the Caribbean on an old sailboat that he retrofitted for his mission on the sea there. He is currently deployed to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, establishing remote field camps for scientific research.
Jef Funch -
Senior Guide / Co-Founder of CenterFocus Paddling / River Logistics
Jef has spent much of his time as a boater, extending from his own personal recreation to guiding with several prominent river boating companies. Jef has guided over 250 customers on the Verde River alone and many customers over the years on the Salt River of Arizona. As an Arizona native who has spent most of his life in Sedona, he has many connections in the community and in the outdoor industry at large. He has over 10 years of experience canyoneering. He is certified in WFR (Wilderness First Responder), and Canyon Technical Rescue. He is a member of the American Canyoneer Association and has spent time on multiple service projects throughout the Grand Canyon National Park. When he's not guiding, Jef can be found climbing, canyoneering and backpacking around the Southwest.
Catherine Conner -
Guide / Co-Founder of CenterFocus Paddling / Marketing
Catherine has a passion for the outdoors, and a love for traditional sandstone (Sedona) rock climbing, canyoneering, SUP and kayaking. She has been rock climbing and canyoneering for over 10 years. She has instructed for guide companies, helped with canyoneering courses, as well as climbing and backpacking courses. She has guided many kayak tours on the Verde near Sedona. She has been involved in the outdoor industry for 15+ years, including working at a large retail / recreation company, where she helped instruct classes, sales in technical and recreational outdoor gear, managed social media, executed mass email campaigns and website promotions and planned events. Catherine currently holds a Wilderness WFR certification. Additionally, she has an extensive resume of marketing, advertising, sales, and communications background. She enjoys showing the fun of the outdoors and creating fulfilling memorable experiences for people. When she's not guiding, Catherine can be found rock climbing, canyoneering, hiking, searching for the coolest water holes to relax at, jump into, or rope swing in, reading books, daydreaming and night hiking to see the stars shine at their brightest.
Josh Klingbeil -
Sedona Operations Manager
Josh is about as cool headed of a person as you will ever meet. He has climbed extensively throughout the desert Southwest as well as California, leading hard traditional routes or soloing. Josh is extremely competent in the vertical world, and has made quick work of challenging climbs throughout this region of the country. He is calm and understanding, putting any client at ease with his solid attitude, and obvious true and safe understanding of what he is doing. Josh worked for the US Forest Service as a Wildland firefighter before joining CenterFocus, and resides in the remote wilderness of the Sierra Ancha. He has guided for many other Arizona adventure companies over the course of the past decade. When he is not leading clients through a technical canyon, you probably will not find him, as he may be establishing first ascents in a remote piece of Arizona backcountry, or simply wandering through desolate pieces of wilderness looking for his next objective.
David Klingbeil -
Canyon Operations Manager
As caretaker for the Rocking X Ranch in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness, David serves as the adventure ranch manager and canyoneering guide for CenterFocus. In addition to potentially being the fastest hiker on earth, David knows the Anchas like his own back yard - as they are literally his own backyard. David is medically qualified and has served as a backcountry ranger for the Forest Service in these areas. He has been an avid rock climber for over ten years and has also served as a guide for multiple adventure companies where he learned to walk just a little bit slower for his clients.
Ty Lampe -
Senior Havasupai Hiking Guide
Ty Lampe is an Arizona Native that was born in a small mining town North of Phoenix, AZ. There, Ty began exploring the great outdoors and later continued on to spend 10 years working for the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, a wildlife rehabilitation and educational division of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, where he worked with numerous species of wild animals and educational programs with an emphasis on venomous reptiles of North America. Ty has enjoyed a professional outdoor guiding career of over 20 years, where he has shared his knowledge of the Southwest with visitors from around the world. Ty has served as a consultant for several B.B.C. documentaries, as well as for P.B.S., Discovery Channel, Oxford Science Films and also for several movies that have been filmed in the state. Ty has worked as a white water rafting, mountain biking, fishing, horse-back riding, and backcountry hiking guide. Ty has guided Havasupai for over 15 years, and is one of the most knowledgeable non-natives in the area. When not guiding, Ty can be found searching for a rattler to spend a relaxing day with or enjoying the sweatlodge with the natives of Havasupai.
Charles Matheus -
Charles Matheus is an Arizona native who has a B.S. in Natural History and Education from Cornell University. Charles is also a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School's Mountain Instructor's Course and has been guiding and teaching in the outdoors since 1988. He has led extended backpacking and climbing trips into most of the West's major mountain ranges and deserts. Charles likes to combine his passion for backcountry living and biology by keeping trip-by-trip species lists of flowering plants and birds. Charles has been a certified Wilderness First Responder for nearly 20 years. Besides leading canyon trips, Charles volunteers for an organization that provides rites of passage and long-term mentoring for underprivileged teenage boys.
Logan Cundiff -
Logan grew up in Durango, Colorado and the Southwest has always been his native home. His knowledge and love for the landscape gives him inspiring interpretive abilities along with passionate leadership skills. Logan has a Degree in Adventure Education from Prescott College and has been exploring various leadership roles since 2007. In his time off, he can be found working with his family business where he coaches corporate clientele, or exploring new wilderness routes with his girlfriend.
Dane Sterba -
Rock Climbing & Backpacking Guide
Dane grew up in Albuquerque, exploring the backcountry with his family and discovered the sport of rock climbing at age eight while on a trip with them to Durango, Colorado. He has been an avid climber and outdoorsman ever since and began guiding in 2010, both in the Desert Southwest as well as Northern New England. Dane is a certified AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, WMA Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Master and has a bachelors degree in Adventure Education and Environmental Studies from Prescott College in AZ. When he's not sharing his passion for the outdoors with others, Dane travels the world looking for new places to climb and explore.
Melissa Philibeck -
Assistant Canyoneering Guide
Growing up in the land of the Menominee Indians, Melissa has always had an interest in Native American culture and a connection with the natural environment. Before moving to Arizona, Melissa graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Archeology and an emphasis in Native American studies. She has participated in several excavations of prehistoric Native American sites that date back 1,500 years. For the past five years Melissa has worked for the National Park Service as an archaeologist in the Sedona / Verde Valley area.
Eric Martin -
Assistant Canyoneering Guide
After spending five years saving our National Forests from wildfire, Eric Martin decided it was time for a change of pace and CenterFocus was lucky enough to pick him up. Eric has an incredible personality and if you're lucky enough to be on one of his tours, he'll probably have you laughing just about the entire time. He is extremely dependable and his attention to detail and safety are second to none. When he's not dropping into a slot canyon, Eric can probably be found riding his motorcycle with his dog Charlie Brown on board.
Van Nielson -
Van has a B.S. in Recreation Management and youth leadership, as well as experience as a Zion based canyoneering guide. Van has also made numerous descents of canyons in Costa Rica and New Zealand. At a young age Van loved the outdoors, earning the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America before moving to Utah, and then Arizona. Van has since moved into a new future with his family, and no longer guides for CenterFocus. Van was a critical player in our early years, helping us get to where we are today. We wanted him to be remembered into the future as he was a great person, and one of our original trusted guides. If you can locate him, Van may be found playing traditional sports or the role of "Uncle Van" for his nieces and nephew.