The activist

Instagram: @flying_tortuga 


Nadia lives in North Carolina and enjoys skydiving, climbing and hiking. She grew up running, swimming and spending time outdoors in the working class suburb of Lauderhill, Florida. She later learned to skydive during nursing school. Nadia is currently a Cardiac Nurse with a passion for public health and addressing healthcare inequities in communities of color. On the weekends you can catch this triple threat in the mountains! Check out her video collaboration with Merrell below.


Name: Nadia Mercado
Pronouns: She/ Her/ Hers
Profession/Student: Cardiac Nurse

How long have you been climbing  A year in October. I started at Triangle Rock Club, which is home to Kai Lightner.

What made you start climbing? My friends Yumi and Miguel. It’s a good way to be fit and have fun and the perfect activity for the times when I can’t go to the drop-zone.

What made you start skydiving? In February it will be three years. I always felt like I wanted to do it.  I saw it in a Power Rangers when I was a little girl and was in awe at how the silver ranger sky surfed. After I did my first jump, I fell in love! It was the absolute best feeling ever. The freedom that you have is difficult to describe. It provides a lot of perspective of just how tiny we are, how insignificant we are in the big scheme of things. Every time we jump is a blessing. It’s a reminder to do what you want and to be happy. 

Mentors: My mentors in the sport are my friends! Some specifically are Danielle Williams, Tito, Chris & Mabell. Mabell is also my sorority sister. She is from Tau Chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated. and I am from Beta Sigma Chapter. 


Have you tried any other adventure sports? Hiking. Hiking. The first time I tried hiking was in May 2016 when I flew out to the tunnel in Utah. The tunnel was closed on Sunday and a friend asked me if I wanted to go out to the Moab desert. I was like sure and we both went out and it was amazing. We drove to Arches National Park. I was so unprepared but it was worth it. I had Vans on and my feet were covered with blisters by the time I was done. 

Did you do any other sports in high school/college?  In HS I played soccer and water polo.  I also taught swimming in college.

What type of climbing do you enjoy? A little bit of top roping, bouldering and I’m also learning how to sport climb now as we speak. Top roping is where the rope is looping through an anchor at the top. Sport climbing is a type of lead climbing. You climb and clip in a quick draw and rope to a bolt on the rock. The rope is trailing you from the bottom. If you fall you really have to have a good partner who will pull out the slack and arrest your fall.

What do you enjoy most about bouldering? I like it because it’s like a puzzle. With climbing in general everything is like a puzzle.

Do they tell you where to go? No you follow the rock and determine your own beta. Sometimes you can get a friend to help you by showing you there's. You have to move your body in a certain way to make it to the top. Some problems are strength oriented. Some are balance oriented. It’s like a big puzzle. I think when things go south in skydiving it’s very fast. With climbing it’s a very sort of gradual fear. Like ohmygosh this hold seems really sketchy. 

What's the most challenging aspect of climbing? The mental aspect. It’s a lot of trust and trust in your feet and sometimes that’s very hard to do. 

Have you met other women or other Women of Color climbers through bouldering? Yumi and Alma Solis!

When you're not climbing what are you usually into? Do you have any other hobbies? Hiking, Skydiving, movies, eating, and napping!

Can you describe a memorable hiking/bouldering trip? My place that I go to is called Pilot Mountain. It has top rope and lead climb routes. It’s in Pinnacle North Carolina half way between Raleigh and Asheville. I go with friends from the gym and my boyfriend. It’s my favorite spot for climbing. You park at the top of the mountain. You don’t have to walk all the way down. You can rappel. The bolts are already set in the wall at the top so everything is climbing ready. The view is beautiful. There are a lot of people who hike there. That’s a pro and a con because there are always a lot of people there. 

Do you ever feel afraid on the rock? If so how do you deal with fear. I assess the situation: if it’s fear because of something I haven’t tried before I go ahead and try it. Because you can’t limit yourself due to fear. If it’s a legitimate safety concern I try and figure it out, communicate with my belayer, get clarity though a safety check and keep it moving. I’m not going to get anywhere if I let fear stop me. Those are good opportunities to grow as a person. 

What's the biggest difference between the crag and your climbing gym?  The dangers present while climbing on the crag are alot more evident and imminent in the outdoors as opposed to the gym. You don’t have the route set for you with perfect colored out holds in the outdoors as you do in the gym, so you really have to focused on your movement, the rock, and your breath. climbing outdoors is so much more stimulating, as there are so many views to take in. I love it!

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Have you ever tried really hard at something and failed? If so how did you handle that? I feel like I tried really hard to be a PICU Nurse. That was my idea of what my dream job was going to be. Taking care of sick kids was really scary and really sad. I didn’t succeed in something I really thought was going to be my dream. The way I deal with failure: I didn’t let it define me. Just because I wasn’t the best PICU nurse didn’t mean I was a bad nurse. I used it as a stepping stone to get better. I used it as a lesson. 

What advice do you have for a Person of Color who is trying to get into skydiving?  Keep your head up and have fun! Remember Beyonce's words in Lemonade and stay in formation! You know you’re the shit when you cause all that conversation. Always stay gracious, best revenge is your papah!