My name is Jen Harman. I currently live in Peoria, Arizona. I was born at Clark AFB in the Philippines but have lived mostly in Arizona ever since with a few years in Oregon. I work as a dental hygienist and have been at the same dental office for nearly 13 years now.
How did you start climbing?
I started climbing when I was attending the University of Arizona. One of my friends needed someone to belay him while he was climbing, so he taught me how. We spent days climbing indoors at this gym called Rocks and Ropes and outdoors at crags like Mount Lemmon. I stopped climbing for a few years after graduating and didn’t start climbing again until the end of 2019 when I befriended a mountain guide.
My goal was to climb independently without having to rely on anyone to take me places, and I accomplished that with some training from him and a lot of practice. I’ve been obsessed with it ever since and spend nearly every weekend outdoors climbing. I also climb indoors at Gecko Climbing Gym in the middle of the week.
What impact has climbing had on your life?
Climbing has been life changing for me. At first, it was just something I was obsessed with because it offered “outdoor therapy,” which helped me escape stress from work and just allowed me to be present in the moment. My husband was absolutely against it in the beginning, but once he actually tried to learn to climb too, he ended up loving it and it’s transformed him.
He’s become a lot healthier training for it and we’ve also had so much time to bond together since it’s our common hobby. We enjoy it with friends and on our own. Climbing has also connected me with so many new friends who seem to have the same thirst for life and sense of adventure. They are always into “Type II Fun.” The journey is all part of the enjoyment, not just finishing a rough climb!
What are some other things you do that you find most fulfilling?
Aside from climbing, I really love music. I play the guitar, the ukulele, and the piano. I also love painting. I started with traditional oils but have transitioned to acrylics since they dry faster and the colors seem to “pop” more.
Outdoors, we spent a lot of time running and hiking year round. My husband and I used to run so much and even did an ultramarathon in Antelope Canyon. (It was rough on my left knee though, so climbing allowed me to enjoy time outdoors without aggravating my knee). I also love canyoneering. I think I enjoy it more than my husband Bryan, but he does go canyoneering with me some times!
In winter, we spend time skiing and snowboarding. During summer, we're always out on the water whether it’s DWS, paddle boarding, or both! Our two Labradors, Arya and Shea, partake in paddle boarding. They provide a lot of entertainment...and also struggles! Lol!
If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?
Try to leave the world a little better than it is. Whether it’s an act of kindness, cleaning up trash outdoors, or just smiling at a stranger, the world could benefit from a lot more positivity than criticism. There is so much to be grateful for. My mom, who passed away in 2003, believed this and often taught me to empathize with people and be grateful for all that we have.
Favorite thing about Dynamite Starfish?
Dynamite Starfish is all about community and all inclusive support. Also, the short phrases on shirts really resonate with how I feel most climbs, especially the tank that says “Climb for Snacks.”
Is there something you're working on that you'd like to tell our community about? We love a good story.
Right now, I’m not working on anything specific. However, I do find myself trying to inspire others to start climbing. It’s just such a different hobby that gives me excitement that I want others to experience too! I especially love seeing more and more females excel in the sport!
Want to get to know more of the climbers in the amazing Dynamite Starfish community? Check out our archive of Climber Stories 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.