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Adventure Film Festival

Our Founder

Jonny Copp (1974 - 2009)

Jonny Copp


Jonny Copp was born into a life of adventure on March 28, 1974 in Singapore.  In June 2009, he was tragically killed by an avalanche while attempting a new route on Mount Edgar in Sichuan Province, China. Although is life was brief, his contributions to the world were remarkable and touched the lives of all those who surrounded him.

 When Jonny was an infant, the family traveled the world together in a truck with a pop-up camper. After the family settled in Fullerton, CA, Jonny could often be found with friends exploring the desert around Joshua Tree National Park. It was there that he first discovered the joy of rock climbing and spending time with friends outdoors – climbing at first with an electrician’s harness and a nylon tow rope from his dad’s garage. Over the years he sharpened his skills as a climber and became one of the best in the world. He excelled in all types of climbing and was known worldwide for his cutting edge first ascents the steepest walls and mountains around the world, including an unheard of trifecta in Pakistan’s Trango Valley with Mike Pennings and a first ascent on Patagonia’s Poincenot with Dylan Taylor.  Jonny inspired people in so many ways beyond his climbing.  His award-winning photography, writing and film footage have been featured in magazines, books and movies -- leaving the rest of us with rare impressions of life on alpine walls. 

Jonny founded the internationally-acclaimed Adventure Film Festival in Boulder, CO, to provide a platform where adventure filmmakers could share their work.  It started in 2003 as a dream in the heart of the Himalayas. In a tent during a storm, on a handful of scratch paper, Jonny Copp sketched out the vision of a community based, mission oriented, outdoor adventure film festival that tied indie film with art and activism.  He created the film festival by bringing together adventurers, artists, filmmakers and activists who believed in the power of the story and the narrative of adventure to change and challenge the world we live in. Over the next 6 years the film festival grew and became and international success with shows in Chile, France, and across the US.  This international Adventure Film team committed themselves to mobilizing people through powerful art, adventure, activism, inspiration and awareness of the world around us.  Adventure Film was rooted in the concept of “making your own legends,” thus empowering each of us to create positive change in our world.

As the film festival grew, so did Jonny’s reputation as a climber and supporter of adventure living. In addition to being sponsored by several well-respected companies, he was chosen as an Ambassador for Patagonia (the company), a distinction that carries with it the responsibility for working with the company’s design department to test, refine, and validate products in the harshest and most remote locations in the world.

Jonny believed that the summit meant something, but that ascent style was everything. He’s been the recipient of many grants to fund explorations and pursued climbing in the same manner that he lived the rest of his life—with vigor and passion. He was a hero and a cornerstone in the climbing community, inspiring people daily.  Jonny was known for engaging with everyone he encountered—greeting all he knew with a ready smile and a hug. 

He dedicated his life to his loves: his family, his friends, and the mountain peaks forever on the horizon, waiting to be explored. He was the embodiment of the Golden Rule and was a larger than life legend that will be deeply missed.


To learn more about Jonny and his legacy visit the Jonny Copp Foundation

          Jonny Copp Foundation