Explorer Spotlight: Nick Tortajada

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Name: Nick (Tort) Tortajada | Age: 35 | Location: Phoenix, AZ.

What’s your day job?
I am a professional photographer in the hospitality industry as well as a graphic design/screen printer. Basically I take pictures and make shirts!

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Camp, cook, hike, climb, bike, cannoneer, explore. If it’s outside, I’m good!

What first drew you to the outdoors?
Growing up in NJ, my options were limited by I always had the itch. I used to her out to nearby mountains (read: hills) and throw myself down anything that looked like a trail on a cheap mountain bike. It wasn’t until I moved to AZ in 04 that I got to really jump into the outdoor world. There’s a peace and a freedom that can only be found through the solace of the wilderness.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
Just did it yesterday! Overnight camp at Lone Tree and summit of Weavers Needle in the Superstition Mountains. One of the most perfect campsites in the area complimented by one of the toughest and most rewarding adventures you can ask for. As for a beer, close to home, killer selection and ambiance award goes to Lone Papago Brewery.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
My Garmin Fenix 3 and Arcteryx Hardshell.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
Don’t care. Smooshed? Easier to chew. Frozen? Savor even longer.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
My music is all over the place from Country to Deathcore to 90’s alternative. It’s fitting for my personality.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/ or funniest?
On a private boat trip down the Colorado a couple years back, we seen the night in high winds a low chills, eating and breathing that soft silky Grand Canyon sand. The next morning proved to be no better and we had to move, except now it was punctuated by driving rain and heavy headwinds. We battled through a few of the rapids around the Roaring Twenties, but our guys in the kayaks kept getting tossed into the freezing water and carried downstream. Eventually, we had to pull over and pull some aid on one of the guys because he was becoming hypothermic. We made tea and bundled up for body heat, but though he was getting better the rest of the party was now standing still and cooling down. We realized we were all starting to show some signs of hypothermia and we needed to get off the water fast - problem was, we were in a canyon with a few miles before a beach break. We dug deep and pushed on until finally reaching a campsite. Quickly we tied off the boats, gathered firewood and started a blazer in a narrow canyon to hold the heat. Huddled around the fire, as the body temps started coming back up, some laughs started oozing out and jokes started cracking. Forty five minutes later, the rain stopped, the sky cleared showing us the sun, and the temps shot up. We went from freezing and shivering misery to running up and down the beach exploring waterfalls in shorts and t-shirts. It was both one of the scariest and uncomfortable experiences as well as the true testament of adventure that makes you feel alive.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
My girlfriend is my adventure person - always up for a challenge, the perfect model and personality that shines through the tough times. I am inspired by anyone who is willing to put themselves out there; whether that be in exploration, adventure, business or personal - I believe a strong will makes for a solid person.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
I’ve been most places in Arizona and I have been setting my sights north now to Southern Utah and over to Colorado. I’m looking to get into some bigger mountains and embrace the cold! Though I must admit, the sheer beauty of the Hawaiian Islands and the backpacking possibilities are tempting.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
My life goal is to live out of a van. I have an Element now which is bomb, but I’m looking to upgrade a bit and hit the road in hope stop take my adventuring and photography to that next level. Even more so, I want to meet new people to explore new things and share our experiences and knowledge across the board.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
I keep making memories so it’s hard to pick out one so I picked a recent gem. It’s a picture of the Filmore Hot Springs. The reason I love it so much is because it perfectly idealizes the idea of adventure for me. We were simply driving back to AZ from SLC and decided to pull over to check these hot springs out. We had no idea as to what to expect. What we came up on was 3 gorgeous pools and it just happened to be a beautiful sunset to boot. This is very representative of my life and why I am so happy with it. Expect the unexpected and roll with what you find because you never truly know what may be coming around the corner. Give things a try and cut loose.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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