"I was introduced to the world of mountain climbing while studying at UBC. It slowly started as a hobby and now after eight years, it has given me a sense of purpose and also encouraged me to make this space more diverse and inclusive."-JoJo Das .
He is the Program Director at Mountain Mentors which is a community that helps make mountain climbing more accessible and inclusive. He loves the mountains and has climbed almost every mountain in British Columbia and has summited Mt.Baker in the United States of America.
Nature is for everyone - this is a statement that Jojo Das, a freelance photographer and programme director of Mountain Mentors truly believes in. Born in Kolkata India, he has lived across India, Canada, Indonesia, the United States of America, and Saudi Arabia, all before the age of 11. Until having moved to Vancouver in 2013 for his bachelor’s degree at UBC, he never considered himself to be an outdoor enthusiast. He developed a strong love and passion for rock climbing during his visits to Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh First Nations. What started as just an interest has now turned into his passion.
He is a part of Mountain Mentors which is a community that helps make mountain climbing more accessible and inclusive. Mountain Mentors facilitate one-on-one mentorship where they pair mentees and mentors and provide the programming necessary to empower pairs to explore the world of mountain climbing. Jojo calls mountain climbing selective suffering as it has objective risks but the journey and the end make it all worthwhile.
His first experience at the BC granite gave him a glimpse of the opportunity and challenges that these spaces bring. His own experiences of being mentored in outdoor environments left a profound impression and hence, he is working towards creating an inclusive space for people to come to explore the mountains. In the past eight years, he is more and more motivated towards using his privilege, access and knowledge to create opportunities for others to be a part of this sport. He firmly believes that nature is for everyone and the walls are meant for climbing and not keeping people apart. Hence, he is working passionately towards creating spaces where people feel welcomed, supported, and equipped to learn and shape their own experiences.
What motivated you to start your mountain climbing journey?
I was never really an outdoor person but having moved to Vancouver in 2013, I was introduced to the world of mountain climbing while studying at UBC. It slowly started as a hobby and now after eight years, it has given me a sense of purpose and also encouraged me to make this space more diverse and inclusive.
What has been the most memorable outdoor experience that you’ve had so far?
The most memorable outdoor experience for me has to be my first alpine experience where we set up a base camp between Alberta and Calgary to witness Mars being close to planet Earth. This gave me an example of what could be done and the access it opens - geographically, psychologically and physically, giving me a unique experience that I’d treasure for life.
Do you have any advice for people who are looking to start their outdoor adventure journey?
I firmly believe that the outdoors belong to everyone. While there are many barriers to entry in this space - the individual narrative is what matters the most. Find that courage, and self-confidence and seek mentorship by networking and being a part of organizations that are working to create a more inclusive space in the outdoor sports world. Be present and show up, this further encourages others to do the same. It is also important to keep your privilege in check and help pave a way for others.