Muir Valley

Crown Jewel of the Red River Gorge

 

 

The Muir Valley Organization (formerly known as the Friends of Muir Valley or FOMV) is a volunteer-based organization that owns, operates, and maintains Muir Valley. The Muir Valley Organization was originally formed in 2004 as a volunteer organization to provide volunteer labor and raise funds to help maintain Muir Valley and keep it open to the public. The Muir Valley organization is one of the top Access Fund chartered Local Climbing Organizations.

 

Muir Valley is the name given a tract of land purchased by Rick and Liz Weber in 2004, which they developed, operated, and maintained as Muir Valley Nature Preserve LLC through March 31, 2015. The Webers made access to Muir Valley free to the public for the purpose of rock climbing, hiking, and enjoying nature. It was the their vision from the onset to make Muir Valley available to the public in perpetuity by gifting it to a non-profit organization. The Webers have nurtured the FOMV over the past eleven years, and it became their choice as the eventual owner/operator of Muir Valley. With FOMV's amazing fundraising drive in 2014, it demonstrated that it was more than capable to take over ownership and management of Muir Valley and keep it running into the future to the standards set by the Webers. On March 31, 2015, the Muir Valley Nature Preserve LLC was dissolved when Rick and Liz Weber donated Muir Valley to FOMV. Recently, the FOMV has shortened its name to the Muir Valley Organization.

 

The Muir Valley Organization is now a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation. Donations are tax deductible for those donors who itemize deductions.

The Muir Valley Organization's Board of Directors

Chairman

Mark Ryan grew up in Cincinnati and started climbing in the Red River Gorge in 1978 when the Mt. Parkway was a toll road.  After several years, he took a trip to Seattle for vacation and didn’t come back to Cincinnati for 16 years; he was busy climbing all over the west coast.  In 2004 Mark heard of this new place to climb called Muir Valley and has been volunteering to help ever since.

 

Along with his volunteerism for valley maintenance, Mark has bolted several dozen routes in Muir Valley that you might have enjoyed climbing.  Mark was elected as Muir Valley Chairman in 2017.

 

In addition to chairing the board, Mark is also an AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor, a Rescue 3 International Instructor, and the Training Officer for the Wolfe County SAR Team.  When not busy with volunteering or training, Mark tries to get some climbing in on the weekends.  Mark can be reached at muirvalleychairman@gmail.com

 

 

Mark Ryan:  fomv.chairman@gmail.com

Mark Ryan:  muirvalleychairman@gmail.com

Vice Chairman

Paul Shellabarger is one of only 13 Muir Valley Lifetime Legacy Members, and continues to support Muir Valley through exceptional volunteerism.  During the week, Paul is a restaurateur and real estate investor living primarily in Indianapolis, but he also maintains a log cabin home about one mile from Muir Valley.  However, you probably know Paul best as the man on the tractor in Muir Valley.

 

Paul first began climbing with his daughter, Ciara, in 1999 at the Galyans Rock Climbing Wall in Greenwood, Indiana.  He subsequently joined Climb Tme Towers where his daughter joined the climbing team.  They had their first outdoor climbing adventure at Muir Valley shortly after the Weber's purchased the property.  Paul immediately fell in love with Muir Valley and has been an active volunteer since 2007.

 

Paul has been involved in bridge construction, trail development, erosion control, road construction, and property maintenance.  One of his greatest contributions has been the development and implementation of the emergency radio repeater system at Muir Valley, for which he managed the project and coordinated a team of skilled volunteers to help with fundraising and technical support.  He also partially takes credit for the development of Mantle Piece (10D), at the Hideout in Muir Valley and received his first FH  “first haul”

 

In 2011, Paul completed the Rescue 3 technical rope rescue coarse and became a member of Muir Valley Search and Rescue, as well as a volunteer for Kentucky Emergency Management.  He recently applied to join Wolfe County search and Rescue in 2017 with a goal to learn from the organization and apply the principles to Muir Valley.

 

Along with rock climbing, Paul’s hobbies have included flying his high performance Russian military aircraft, and driving his camouflaged military H1 HMMWV (hummer).

 

Muir Valley is fortunate to have the benefit of Paul’s entrepreneurial experience to help guide, direct, and maintain the high standards that the Webers and previous board members have established for one of the best and safest privately owned climbing venues in the United States.  Paul can be reached at muirvalleyvicechairman@gmail.com

 

Paul Shellabarger:  muirvalleyvicechair@gmail.com

Secretary

Zachary (Zach) Davis has been involved in Muir Valley since 2011 through trail days and helping out with other projects such as the Muir Valley Project video . He spent his first few outdoor climbing trips learning to lead climb in Muir Valley and has been excited about what the Valley has to offer ever since.  Zach was enthused to become more involved by serving on the board starting in Feb 2015.

 

Zach is a dedicated rock climber spending as much time as possible climbing at Muir and other crags at the Red.  Though, throughout most of the week, you will find him bouldering in the evenings at Climb Time in Cincinnati.  He also frequents many other climbing destinations throughout the year in Tennessee, West Virginia, and Colorado. Zach can be reached at: MuirValleySecretary@gmail.com Zach's LinkedIn link.

 

Zach Davis:  muirvalleysecretary@gmail.com

Treasurer

Jessica (Jess) Hannes has been an active supporter of Muir Valley for many years and has been on the board since 2013.  As Treasurer, Jess has been integral in streamlining the Muir Valley financial records including managing donations, preparing financial statements and the annual budget.

 

Jess and her family began climbing in 2009.  Although they climb at multiple destinations throughout the country, the Red River Gorge is their primary climbing destination with Muir Valley being top on their list.  This is due to Muir Valley's excellent routes, facilities, and overall safety practices.  Jessica's husband, Chris, is a professional firefighter and certified EMT who also volunteers on the emergency rescue team when visiting the valley.

 

Jess hails from Kenosha, Wisconsin and works in Chicago, Illinois.  She has over 20 years of experience in leading customer service, sales, and retention call centers.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ripon College.  Jess is an avid traveler and loves outdoor activities including camping, hiking, and road cycling.

 

Jessica's contact information is muirvalleytreasurer@gmail.com

If you would like to connect with her via Linkedin her address is www.linkedin.com/in/jessicahannes

 

Jessica Hannes:  muirvalleytreasurer@gmail.com

Financial Secretary

Dave Foster lives in Cincinnati, OH with his wife Maryanne.  They have 4 kids who all enjoy climbing (though some are downright crazy about it!).  Dave started climbing in 2013, and quickly fell in love with The Red and Muir Valley.  He has been a supporter of Muir Valley ever since, joining the Board as Financial Secretary in January 2017.  Dave is a financial advisor in Cincinnati Ohio.  The firm that Dave started in 1990 (now Foster & Motley, Inc) is one of the top wealth management firms in the area, with 11 shareholders and 34 employees.  Dave has been (and continues to be) an active volunteer in the Cincinnati inner-city, working on homeless and poverty issues.  Dave and his family look forward to spending more time in The Red, and Muir Valley in particular.  Dave looks forward to helping the Board further its mission for Muir Valley.  You may contact Dave at muirvalleyfinancialsecretary@gmail.com

Dave Foster: muirvalleyfinancialsecretary @gmail.com

Information Technology

Mike Davenport is a general surgeon in Northern KY. My first exposure to Muir Valley was in 2007 when me and  my kids, Eric and Jenna, attended the Muir Valley climbing camp. It was amazing and we fell in love with Muir Valley and the Webers. We are avid  climbers and Muir Valley is home! I am honored to call Rick and Liz good friends.  I volunteer on the Wolfe co. SAR team and also participate in the Muir Valley Rescue Group.  I am honored to be on the board of FOMV and look forward to continue the legacy that the Webers and FOMV have established.

 

Mike Davenport:muirvalleyinfotech @gmail.com

Board Member at Large

Wendy Hanna first started climbing in 2004 and was quickly introduced to lead climbing in Muir Valley on an undergraduate spring break trip shortly thereafter.  Since that time, she has been climbing from Red Rocks in Las Vegas to Antalya, Turkey, with lots of places in between, but she keeps coming back to Muir Valley.  She loves Muir Valley for its excellent quality of routes, the beautiful scenery, all the delightful people, and the wonderful legacy that Rick and Liz Weber have created.

 

Wendy recently relocated from Salt Lake City, UT to Saint Louis, MO, which offered her the opportunity to become more personally involved with the Muir Valley board as a Board Member at Large.  She is excited to help grow Muir Valley for future generations while preserving the peaceful beauty that first caused her to fall in love with climbing some 11 years ago.  You may contact Wendy at muirvalleywebsite@gmail.com

 

Wendy Hanna: muirvalleywebsite@gmail.com

Publicity Chair

Tricia Coakley has been an active supporter and advocate for Muir Valley since 2013 through fundraising activities, weekend emergency response, and helping out in the parking lot.  She joined the Muir Valley Board of Directors in 2015 as the Publicity Coordinator and serves Muir Valley in the creation and dissemination of quarterly newsletters, website and social media coordination, and public relations.

 

Tricia is currently working for the University of Kentucky in program assessment and strategic planning.  She has previously worked as an environmental research scientist for Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky.  Tricia is passionate about community education and volunteer coordination around environmental conservation and stream protection initiatives.  She currently coordinates a water quality monitoring effort of the North Fork of the Kentucky River tributaries that initiate at the Muir Valley waterfalls and flow through the valley.

 

Tricia and her husband Michael are beginning rock climbers and love Muir Valley for its abundance of quality sport routes and maintained trails.  Tricia can be reached at muirvalleypublicity@gmail.com

 

 

Tricia Coakley:  muirvalleypublicitychair@gmail.com

Muir Valley Property Manager

Roger has been a very active supporter and advocate for Muir Valley since its inception in 2004, and served on the Muir Valley Board since 2009, including serving as Chairman from 2011-2015.  Roger spearheaded and implemented the successful transition of the Muir Valley parking policy to ensure financial sustainability of the preserve.

 

Roger has created, headed up, and successfully completed numerous construction projects in the Valley, including the three restrooms, several bridges, and major trails and roads.  After leaving the Board when term limits required and retiring from his career as an air traffic controller, we just couldn’t let Roger get away, and he agreed to relocate to Wolfe County permanently and stay on as the Muir Valley Property Manager.  You can usually find Roger at Muir on a tractor or swinging a pulaski axe.

 

Roger is an avid rock climber and takes trips several times a year to other climbing venues around the country.  He enjoys sport climbing, and is also experienced in multi-pitch trad climbing.  You can text Roger with Muir Valley maintenance questions at (317) 525-3015.

 

Roger VanDamme:  muirvalleypropertymanager@gmail.com

Muir Valley Ambassador at large

Michael Kirkendall (Tricia Coakley's bearded half) is one of the Valley's ardent volunteers. Visitors do a double take when they first see him, as he is the spitting image of John Muir himself. You will see him on a tractor one minute and giving guidance and leadership to new visitors the next. Michael has been a valuable resource with Muir's many maintenance and construction projects.

 

Michael and his wife Tricia might even be considered residents of Muir inasmuch as they own a little log cabin on a small plot within the Valley. They are key members of the Muir Valley Rescue Group and have both assisted with and managed incidents involving climber injuries.

 

Michael and Tricia were also important contributors to the Muir Valley Pocket Guide publication, spending many hours researching, mapping, and photographing the Valley.

Tricia Coakley with John Muir (Michael Kirkendall)

Muir Valley Founders

Rick and Liz Weber stated climbing in 1999 When they were well into their fifties. They climbed at many of the popular crags around the country but always found their home crags in the Red River Gorge to be their favorites. On a climbing trip late in 2003 to the "Red" they discovered a Valley ringed by seven miles of virgin rock walls —virgin in the sense that these spectacularly-featured sandstone cliffs had never been climbed. On the very day they explored the valley, they approached the landowner and arranged, on the spot, to purchase this breathtaking place. Within a few months, they purchased an adjacent parcel, and the two parcels were combined to form what is now known as Muir Valley. The couple immediately began building trails and developing climbs, and opened it to the public in January of 2004. Through Muir's early years, the Webers spent a significant amount of time, effort and money transforming what was Wolfe County's illegal trash dump into the world-class climbing preserve and unique place of natural beauty that it is today.

 

The first year that Rick and Liz opened Muir for climbing, they encouraged a group of climbers who frequented the Valley to organize their volunteer efforts into a formal organization. In 2004, with a little seed money and nurturing from the Webers, the Friends of Muir Valley was formed. Through the years, this group of enthusiasts through their tireless volunteer efforts earned the trust and respect of the landowners — so much so that on March 31, 2015, the Webers made a gift of the ownership of Muir Valley to the Friends of Muir Valley and tasked them with its preservation and management in perpetuity. The Webers are now enjoying their twilight years volunteering for this fine organization.

 

Liz has a masters degree in engineering from Purdue and an MBA from IU. She retired as an engineering section chief from Rolls-Royce Aerospace. Due to shoulder injuries, Liz has retired from climbing but still enjoys watching others enjoy this sport. She is a wildflower enthusiast, including mountain laurel, which grows in abundance in Muir Valley. Liz can be contacted at Liz.Weber5@gmail.com, MuirValley@gmail.com (606) 668-9066 or (317) 402-0123.

 

Rick is a graduate of Purdue University, and was founder and manager of several companies before retiring. He is an active AMGA-Certified Single Pitch Instructor and an Instructor trainer with Rescue 3 International. He also developed a rescue training facility at Muir Valley and has provided rescue training for many volunteers and professionals working throughout Kentucky. Rick can be contacted at RichardHWeber@gmail.com, (606) 668-9066, or (317) 402-0118.

Rick Weber:  richardhweber@gmail.com

Liz Weber:  liz.weber5@gmail.com

© Copyright 2015 Friends of Muir Valley LLC. All rights reserved.