I was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario, where I spent my youth with my nose tucked away in books.  When I moved to Vancouver for university, I quickly fell into a lasting love with the West Coast and the outdoors.  I majored in Cognitive Systems: Artificial Intelligence & Design, and became a software engineer based in Seattle, WA.  I spend my free time climbing, traveling, and adventuring — and I like to take my camera with me!

My love for being outside and yearning for life away from the office led me to quit my job and travel.  I drove from Banff to Costa Rica while living out of the back of a pickup truck; I spent months backpacking through Europe and practicing yoga in Thailand; I volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Guatemala.  I’ve suffered through food poisoning on Kilimanjaro, which is the most beautiful place in the world I will ever throw up.  I’ve waited three hours outside a train station in India, where I exchanged Clif bars with local women and children for vegetables, nuts, and smiles — all without speaking a word.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a variety of experiences all over the world, and I have barely scratched the surface.  The past two years have been spent learning just as much about myself as about the rest of the world — moreso, in fact.  I know my priorities center around community, climbing, and growth.  I get the most value out of a life shared with others and developing strong, nurturing bonds.  Life on the road is constantly changing and stimulating, but it’s difficult to forge meaningful connections when you’re always leaving.  The nomadic life is fun for a time, but I prefer to have a homebase to return to.  As for climbing, it’s the one activity that I keep coming back to, even after repeated injuries or time away from it.  Climbing has introduced me to my favourite people in this world, and continues to do so every day.  I feel most at home among other climbers, and I attribute my self confidence, independence, and strength to this sport.  I may not know where I’ll be in five, ten, or twenty years — but I sure hope that I’m still climbing!

Photograph of Jessica Best

For me, photography is just a means to share my love of climbing and nature with others.  I love documenting special moments for friends, and capturing memories for years to come.  I think that everyone should be passionate about protecting our environment and enjoying all that life has to offer — and people only protect what they love.  If photography can help inspire people to get outside, or to push themselves harder, then hopefully they too will care about preserving the natural playgrounds we’ve been gifted.

I haven’t yet found a compelling reason to return to life behind a computer screen in exchange for a steady income.  That may change one day.  But for now, you can usually find me climbing, taking photographs of climbers, volunteering with the Ontario Alliance of Climbers, or route setting and coaching at my local gym.