Jeff Shapiro is a lifer. He’s one of those veteran mountain adventure athletes who is able to excel on rock, snow, ice, or even in the air. He’s also a new member of the CAMP USA athlete team, and we caught up with him in his Missoula home to get the straight scoop on life in Montana and to find out what makes a climber choose to take flight.
How did you start mixed climbing and why did you stick with it?
I spent a lot of time in the mountains camping with my folks and as a kid I was fascinated by climbing and guys doing routes in the Himalayas. I read a lot and started rock climbing at Index when I was 13-14. By the time I was 16-17, I was heading down to the Valley and a friend who designed and built packs and portaledges turned out to also be a hang glider pilot. That was when I was 17 and I’m 43 now.
I want to experience as much life, new culture, people and perspective as I can in my time on this planet. What fascinated me most is exploration and the type of adventure that involves uncertainty. Through that fascination, I have extended my mountain tools to include wingsuit, BASE, and Paragliders. I’ve always been passionate about climbing rock and ice. The vertical environment and earned perspectives afforded by climbing in the mountains has always fascinated me. Mixed climbing eventually seemed like the natural evolution and the best way to link features on the most elegant and beautiful lines in the big mountains.
Does your work complement your passion or make you better at some aspect of it? Or is it purely an escape from work?
I’m extremely lucky that my work is my passion. Training for adventure and then applying that training is the best job in the world. If I can bring back experiences through writing and/or images or film that helpsinspire other people to get after what they’re most passionate about…even better. My adventures are personal experiences that fulfill me as a human and bring happiness to my life so, if I can share that with the people I love, I’m psyched.
Do what you’re psyched on! Doing things like training hard or preparing for a sport or adventure is only good if it’s about the passion and less about the ambition or ego. If it calls, do it full on! If it doesn’t, listen to what does and do that instead!
I hope to fly my paraglider into the Himalaya on a self supporting expedition, pick a new alpine line from the air and then land to climb it. Then, fly my way back out.
Ice Cream……without a doubt. I honestly think that the earth would wobble and everyone would be fighting and unhappy, all the time, if ice cream didn’t exist. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just sayin’