in the united states, the pacific northwest is my favorite place to climb, but new hampshire’s white mountains are wonderful too. costa rica is probably my favorite surf destination, and all throughout the rockies is where i love to snowboard.
my absolute favorite go-to travel pack is the patagonia ascensionist pack 35l. for backpacking, general travel, ice climbing, running, whatever, it’s just perfect in it’s simplicity and packability. when it comes to layering and jackets, i tend to opt for black diamond equipment or outdoor research shells and insulation. i won’t go anywhere without my goal zero venture 30 solar kit. when you document your adventures as much as i do, whether on social or for film, you need to stay powered up, and the venture 30 kit is amazing.
if you can say that you’ve never wanted to meet the man behind the camera, you’ve never truly been moved by a film. it’s no wonder that jonathan ronzio found a way to bring in the bucks as an adventure athlete, a speaker, a filmmaker, an entrepreneur, a musician and now expedition leader. his boarderline ocd obsession with pushing his limits is what has brought him continual success through hard work, curiosity and refusal to see challenges as a barrier.
there’s something to be said about a human who would willingly pitch a tent in the dead of winter, in the middle of a snowstorm in iceland. we asked some Q’s and were not surprised when the A’s left us questioning what could we discover if we pursued the unplanned plan with nothing else in mind other than the simple life lesson taught by daddy ronzio of “do it now” and “finish” many years ago. take a good read, register and apply how everything can go wrong but still lead to everything just right.
so, you’re really into climbing mountains. what’s that about?
i’ve always felt connected to the outdoors, loved camping, and was a passionate skier / snowboarder growing up. but it wasn’t until college that i started really hiking. my first mountain being massachusetts’ mount monadnock – and then subsequently climbing.
i was around twenty when going hiking and camping with friends and cold beers a couple times a year started shifting to serious climbing, exploring the backcountry and more extreme places a couple times a month. that same year, i spent five months living abroad in new zealand and the adventurous pursuits that country has to offer at every turn really became the catalyst that sent me down the path of passions i’ve pursued ever since.
where’d your interest in filmmaking and documenting your experiences begin?
my brother and i started a video production company when he was fourteen and i was eleven. growing up, we worked together, traveling the country building the business and managing large-scale productions for clients like us figure skating and the nfl. in college, i studied marketing and environmental science. after school, i bought a one-way ticket west. by brother and i both decided to move on to new creative pursuits and leave that company behind and what came next for me was between the peaks.
how did you know that you were making the right decision with the between the peaks project?
i think when we got our first sponsor on board, it was the first moment i knew i was onto something. justin’s nut butter was the first to believe in my crazy adventure project, and after they signed on with all their nut-buttery goodness, many more amazing brands fell in line. having some of the industry’s top brands back my idea, no matter how small or large their commitment, was a very validating feeling.
after the film was released the real validation that this was a path worth pursuing came from all the amazing people from around the world that reached out with kind words about between the peaks. whether just to say “nice work,” or to tell some story of how our project motivated and inspired them to chase an unconventional dream or make a positive difference somewhere along their own path, that was when I knew it was all worth it and this was what i needed to keep doing.
what are you up to now?
since returning from between the peaks, i’ve built up my own brand and marketing consulting practice, content jelly, a content marketing automation service. i’m also starting my personal adventure brand, blog, and expedition series, explore inspired. the idea is to bring an invite-only expedition to some of the most amazing, motivated, driven, and badass people in the world in some of the planet’s most extreme places. nothing creates bonds like adventure, real adventure. when you have to solve problems and find the way together. it’s a constant evolution of passion finding purpose. who knows what’s going to happen next, but i’m excited for it.
what could you account to being a big part of the creation of explore inspired?
during the between the peaks expedition, so many things went wrong.
starting with being forced to descend 1,000 feet shy of the summit of the america’s on mt. aconcagua due to the onset of pulmonary edema symptoms. that was in every meaning of the expression, heart-breaking. after driving the stretch of chile through the atacama desert, we were turned away from entering peru leaving us stuck living out of our high-altitude tent on the sweltering border town beach of arica trying to figure out how to solve this problem and carry on. my pack containing nearly a grand worth of expedition gear was stolen. we were nearly mugged at the border of nicaragua and honduras. had a dslr stolen from a hostel in ecuador. and i got pick-pocketed on a chicken bus in guatemala.
through it all, the good outweighed the bad of the trip, and what i brought back in experiences and lessons learned far outweighed any of the lost material possessions. i learned how to get by with less, how to deal with set backs, and how to overcome struggles and obstacles in a foreign country while staying positive and having fun.
my dad used to drill two messages into us growing up. “do it now,” and “finish.”
at the time, it was about making my bed, putting toys away, getting homework done, doing the dishes, locking the door… all that stuff. he made sure we not only took on responsibility and learned to be self-competent at a young age, but also instilled in us an incredibly important work ethic.
planning expeditions that are “unplanned” seems challenging. how do you stay focused?
there’s always a voice in the back of my head reminding me that i never want to have to ask myself, “what if?” i will never put my dreams and ideas on a pedestal, or a shelf, and let them be labeled as unattainable, only to get dusty, unfulfilled, and forgotten because failing is always better than never trying.
that’s why i keep pushing myself. whatever it is i’m doing, i know i can’t let up, because if i do, there’s that chance of having to say “what if?” what if i had trained a little harder or practiced a little more?
don’t live in that questioning space.
who’s someone that really inspires you?
My brother chris has always been my greatest mentor and motivator.
he’s not really into the outdoor pursuits like i am, but from just an overall inspirational standpoint, he has always pushed me to be better, work harder, and think bigger. chris was diagnosed with type I diabetes when he was seven and growing up, he indirectly taught me how to not believe in limitations and beat every challenge in front of you. he was an all-star in athletics and academics, and still is one of the smartest entrepreneurs i’ve ever met. living up to my brother’s success has always pushed me, but not in a competitive or overshadowed way, in a way that’s been really healthy, challenging, and forced me to be creative and innovative. we both have our own things now, but our skills and passions still compliment each other in really cool ways.
thanks for letting us in on an unknown adventure. we’ll be following along with the unplanned plan to see what we can discover. until next time…
Stranded on Land