Born on the foot of Mont Blanc, it’s no wonder Jeff Mercier grew up to be a world-renowned climber. Today, supporting three kids, he’s made the mountain his bread and butter as a rescuer.
Jeff Mercier discovered his love for the mountains as soon as he learned to walk. At three years of age, he knew how to ski. Still, it would take him another decade to find his true passion in life – climbing.
"Strangely, I did a lot of sailing in my childhood. But as soon as I had my first climbing session at 13, I was hooked for life. I remember cycling for an hour every day to spend the afternoon on a boulder about 20 meters high. As I didn't know any other climbers, I did a lot of solo practice from the start."
That practice paid off. Since then, Jeff has fearlessly taken on spectacular walls across the globe, and has made an everlasting impact as the ice climber of his generation. While a rock route doesn’t vary, and the methods and grips used for crossing difficult passages are always the same since the first realization, the practice of ice climbing is way different, he explains.
"From one year to another, the same waterfall is formed differently because of the water flow, the force of the wind and the temperature of the air. Intense cold causes rapid formation, whereas temperatures close to zero make the process slow. You can climb the same wall 50 times, and it’s always a different challenge!"
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Living in the outdoors
For the last four years, Jeff, his wife and their three sons have lived in Corsica, almost at the southernmost point of France. Quite the contrast to his chilly origins. Here, he enjoys a different kind of outdoors environment.
"I really appreciate the heat of Corsica. I often start my summer days in the Mediterranean, and then have a run in the mountains above our house with our dog Bianca. We return for lunch at noon to be with the family and then I climb in the afternoons. When I'm too tired, I just grab my camera and wander around randomly. I love taking pictures!"
Of course, leading such a dreamy life doesn’t come for free. Jeff has a job working as a mountain rescuer, which means he’s always on duty. If something happens, he must be able to drop everything and leave in an instant. In addition, planning the upcoming climbing season takes a lot of effort.
"As an athlete, it is necessary to find money for travel costs through sponsors. Then there’s the social network part. I focus mainly on Instagram, posting beautiful climbing images daily. Sharing my travels and experiences with people takes a lot of time, but I really enjoy the exchange and always answer comments and questions."
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No barriers to creativity
What attracts Jeff the most about climbing? The absolute feeling of freedom to perform and be solely responsible for his actions. Following his mood and desire for the day, there is no barrier to creativity. Wherever he climbs, Jeff does it with the utmost respect for the layout of the trails and the animal life in the surroundings.
"Nature is fragile and we must take care of it. For instance, I never climb close to bird nests. I also have a lot of respect for the peasants working with animals in the mountains. When I'm with my dog, I tie her up so she doesn't scare the cows or the sheep."
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One with nature
Even if the images in Jeff’s gallery are made by professionals, every movement is 100 % authentic and nothing is added or staged. His movements reflect his personal style of climbing and his way of life. Anything he wears while climbing must feel like a natural part of the whole.
"I try to convey the image of an authentic athlete, and that also includes the products I use. I prefer to wear high quality products made by brands that have a history and great values."
Jeff has lots of offerings on the table and products at his disposal, but chooses a different route. He takes pride in the fact that his carefully chosen collaborators and partners repair his gear and clothing when the climbing season is over.
"As a brand ambassador, I like to show the durability of what I use. When I meet people, I feel credible talking about the lifespan of a product when the one I wear is worn out but still effective."
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In it for the long haul
Jeff is only interested in long-term collaborations which means he says no to a lot of products that can bring in money fast. His passion for nature and spending time in the outdoors must also be reflected in the companies he works with.
"I’ve collaborated with KnowledgeCotton Apparel for five years. I love the clothes and find them both sober and super stylish. I also have a lot of respect for their clothing production ethics."
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Finding new sensations
Barely escaping an avalanche in Canada – which was “just nature giving him a warning to remember the lesson” – Jeff does have a few tips for anyone looking to try climbing.
"Only go with competent people who knows how to be careful. Behind all those magnificent images on social networks, there are years of practice and training. For a single image, you sometimes try three different locations because of the dangers. Never be ashamed to give up if you’re not comfortable!"
After an action-packed season that started on the Swiss glaciers and ended at the end of February in northern Norway, he currently takes full advantage of the heat and sunshine back home. One thing his passionate about is free diving, a sport he discovered when he first arrived in Corsica.
"It is very demanding but the sensations are incredible. You descend upside down to about 15 meters below the surface and flow effortlessly while the water scrolls past your eyes faster and faster. It's a strange mix of absolute fear and body control, which I really enjoy. In these moments, I entrust my life to the professionals who watch over me. It is my turn to put my safety in the hands of others."
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