Climber Interview: Justin Moynihan

February 08, 2021 3 min read

Climber Interview: Justin Moynihan - Dynamite Starfish

To start, what are a few ways you identify yourself? (some examples: name, age, type of work you do.) But really, anything you believe is important.

Justin, 40, route setter, writer, ex-mountain guide, composer, roller skater

How did you start climbing?

I heard stories about my Great Grand Uncle (Kitada Shozo) being a famous alpinist in Japan, but didn't know how to get into climbing until I fell in love with a girl who liked the attention I gave her. In 2002 Nicky and her father, later her father's girlfriend and her father's girlfriend's friends took me out. I used to take a train from Philly to New Jersey, another train to NYC, walk across town, a bus to New Paltz, hitch hike to the Gunks, then walk the base of the cliff looking for partners. A few years after all this I met my first real mentor: Paul, who was on the whole AMGA track and had some significant FA's on big alpine peaks. 6 years into climbing I climbed Kitada Shozo's death route in Japan.

Image of Justin Moynihan

Image of Justin Moynihan


What impact has climbing had on your life?

I wasn't an athlete until I discovered climbing. Climbing motivates me to stay fit. But more importantly my understanding of Risk, both it's utility as well as the nuances of managing it, has been honed in a way I'd never consider without the real life consequences that Climbing insists. My relationship with Fear is also healthier as a result. And I really value sucking at a thing I try so very hard at (even though I am always getting a little bit better). Obviously also, the friendships forged in sharing a rope are unparalleled. And on a bad note, I have some pretty severe PTSD from guiding. Still dealing with that with a therapist.

What are some other things you do that you find most fulfilling?

Roller Skating (2+ years) and Handtool Woodworking (a few months) have been recent hobbies that mirror the early days of climbing for me. In that my improvement in the activity is much more evident from one day to the next. But also I am so very bad at them both, and it's nice to be a beginner again. Other than that, banging on the piano, writing stories, hanging with friends, and playing Catan.

Image of Justin Moynihan

Image of Justin Moynihan


If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?

My bias in life is towards an inspired intentional life driven by a code of behavior as opposed to desired outcomes. But if I could impact people in one way, it would be to increase the levels of compassion and empathy folks experiences towards everything around them.

Image of Justin Moynihan

Image of Justin Moynihan


Favorite thing about Dynamite Starfish?

Leslie Kim. One of my favorite people I've met in all my years in Los Angeles.

Image of Justin Moynihan

Image of Justin Moynihan


Is there something you're working on that you'd like to tell our community about? We love a good story.

My housemate and I are developing some new boulders near our home. It's nice to stay local and to do trash clean up and careful beautification of an area while also climbing mostly unclimbed rock. Excited to share the location with folks once we finish sending our most inspired problems.

 You can find Justin on Instagram at @michaeljustinmoynihan

Want to get to know more of the climbers in the amazing Dynamite Starfish community? Check out our archive of Climber Interviews here.

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.

Have someone you think we should feature? Send us a message and let us know!

Leslie Kim
Leslie Kim

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