This week, we're featuring one of our own ambassadors. We love J.C. for his incredible kindness and support, and we absolutely love watching his van-ventures on Instagram. We hope you enjoy this one!
To start, what are a few ways you identify yourself? (some examples: name, age, pronouns, type of work you do.) But really, anything you believe is important.
J.C., 35, Male, Climber, Photographer, Vanlifer
How did you start climbing?
Growing up I was always climbing trees and whatever else I could find. But, I lived in Florida, so I had very little opportunity for real climbing. When I was 11 or 12-years-old, I was visiting family in the Netherlands and went to my first climbing gym (Klimcentrum Bjoeks). I loved it but went back to Florida where climbing gyms weren't common at the time. Fast forward years later and the fire still was burning. I decided I wanted go to a climbing gym and see if I liked it. I had a friend at work who I knew was a climber and I asked him for some advice. The advice was simple, "Screw the gym, come with me, and I'll take you climbing for real". He took me down to Stoney Point and my life changed. Suddenly we were on our way to REI for climbing shoes and a harness, and I never really looked back after that. I did eventually go to a climbing gym, and I even went back to Klimcentrum Bjoeks recently and climbed their epic 37 meter freestanding wall, Excalibur.
What impact has climbing had on your life?
Climbing has completely, seismically changed my life. Before I started climbing, I had juggled a regular job while trying to make a career in photography. After climbing, I quit the job and downsized my life a few times, until I finally bought a van so I could work less and climb more.
Climbing saved me as cliche as that is. In my darkest moments, it was the place I went to, that turned the volume down on the despair and helped me continue. It continues to be that place that brings me peace when I cannot find it, and the rest of the time it just brings me joy.
On top of that, I have made so many great lasting friendships through our shared passion for climbing.
What are some other things you do that you find most fulfilling?
It would be easy to make a joke about how climbing is everything, but it isn't. I love photography, and making good art is incredibly fulfilling. I also participate in Help Portrait yearly, a charity photography event that delivers photographs to people in need and is incredibly rewarding.
If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?
If I could tell the world one thing it would be - just be kind, stay humble and follow your heart (yes that's 3 things).
You can find J.C. onInstagram @jcaoutdoors. We hope you have enjoyed these sneak peeks into climbers' lives. We're on a mission to share diverse stories about rock climbing. Let's push the boundaries of who we know as climbers. Let's use our energy and passion for the outdoors to love our environment and inspire one another.