Climber, advocate, storyteller: to name but a few of the strings in Shelma Jun’s bow. A leader within the U.S. climbing community, she is Managing Director of the internationally renowned organisation Flash Foxy and current Vice President of the Access Fund; she has a master’s degree in Urban Planning, is a certified single pitch instructor, a training AMGA apprentice rock guide and a budding filmmaker to boot. Championing equity, diversity, inclusivity, representation and conservation within climbing and outdoor spaces, she is widley recognised for her activism and in 2017 was named one of 40 women who’ve made the biggest impact in the outdoor world by Outside magazine. All this, and she still makes time to plug cams on pristine alpine cracks and decipher boulder sequences on crisp winter days.
Growing up in California, Shelma always loved the outdoors and sports but didn't find climbing until she was an adult. She first tried top rope climbing in a California gym after shoulder reconstruction surgery rendered her unable to participate in her regular sports of snowboarding, mountain biking and surfing, yet it wasn’t until moving to New York in 2011 that she really found her feet in the sport.
“Within two months of climbing, I was on a multi-pitch class in the Gunks and hooked,” says Shelma, via email. “I learned to climb through trad climbing in the Gunks. In 2015, I saw a picture of the Incredible Hulk and Positive Vibrations in the High Sierras and knew I had to climb it. Positive Vibrations became the first alpine climb I ever climbed — not easy considering I didn’t really know how to crack climb! I’ve always been a sucker for aesthetic lines and often my goals are aligned with a beautiful line I can’t get out of my head! ”
Aestheitc lines and beautiful blocs lead Shelma to focus on alpine climbing through the summer and hard bouldering projects in the colder months, while spring and autumn are centred around training, with a little trad cragging and sport sprinkled in for good measure.
“I love the movement of climbing, the puzzle solving aspect of it, the micro beta,” continues Shelma about her motivation for climbing. “I love that five people can send the problem in five different ways. I love that a beginner and an expert can often go out together and have a great time and both be pushed. I love the feeling of being part of the landscape rather than just an observer when I’m hundreds of feet up on a wall. I love that it takes me to sublime places.”