Camille de la Vega, Climber

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Camille de la Vega, The Specialty: Rock Climbing Camille de la Vega [@camille.marguerite] is a social justice advocate and outdoorist. A Bay Area native, she's grown roots in LA, earning her bachelor's in Sustainable Urban Planning at USC and joining the mighty team of the LA Food Policy Council. She is committed to creating a more sustainable, fair, accessible, and healthy food system. When she's not climbing or hiking, you can find her flowing it out on the mat, recharging on the beach, or winging it in the kitchen. 

"It’s kind of a funny story how I started climbing. It was something that intrigued me and I’d met people along the way who rock climbed and dated guys who were really into it. And I found myself feeling like I needed to find someone who would become a guide for me in terms of these interests that I had my eye on. I think that’s something I’ve always struggled with as an extrovert – as someone who really likes to have people to share experiences with. I keep myself from pursuing things I’m interested in because I don't have someone to do it with. I talked about it with one of my friends and he was like, 'Camille, I always want to play frisbee with my friends and they never want to play with me so I bought myself a boomerang.' And I was just like, 'This is the metaphor for life!' [Laughs] That’s why rock climbing feels really special in some ways. It’s a tangible pursuit of mine that I did very much on my own and I really felt like I broke away from waiting around for other people to join me. 

Climbing in general has been very metaphorical for me. You can’t progress unless you swallow your fear. You get to a spot on the wall where you’re like, 'This feels unsafe. I feel like if I let go or I make that next reach, I’m going to fall. But if I don’t do that I’m not going to get anywhere.' You know? It’s up or down either way so you just reach and you’ll surprise yourself. 

It’s not just about your physical strength, it’s more like a puzzle. You might find yourself in a situation where you’re like, 'I literally can’t reach anything right now so how do I figure this out?' That’s why they’re called problems – bouldering problems – that you solve. It’s a project you’re working on and you have to keep at because you won't always figure it out in one go...you have to find the flow of how you’re going to get to the next holds. 

I’m a true Gemini and I’m super airy and always in my head trying to analyze or figure something out and that’s just how I solve my problems in general. I think that’s why I’m drawn to things like rock climbing and yoga and hiking. They get me in my body more and I have to focus on what’s in front of me and just making it to the next step. I think that helps me with my life situations too – to keep wading through. I’m not going to be able to solve everything with my mind so I have to just trust and let everything fall how it falls.

Climbing is an interesting sport too because you plateau and then you improve and then you regress and then you do it all again. It really becomes a lesson in patience with that process. And I definitely see that in life: having moments where I did this thing or I was in this place and I felt like I was my best me and then I returned to my old ways so quickly and I was so frustrated with myself. But you have to remember that that’s all part of growing."

- as told to Lenea Sims

Images courtesy of Camille de la Vega