Araceli Segarra: Climber/Author/Public Speaker/Model-Featured February 2009 Guest

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon seem inevitable”. – Christopher Reeve

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An interview with Araceli Segarra, by Vertical Magazine, on climbing the worlds highest peaks while continuing to take on new and exciting challenges.

Q: You were a caver before becoming a climber. How did exploring underground caverns lead to climbing in wide open spaces?

A: Caving and mountaineering are very similar. I fell in love with mountains and adventure through caving. Sometimes you have to hike all day in the Pyrenees to get to the cave you want to explore. Caving is a very tough sport, it builds different skills that climbing itself doesn’t have. It gives you a very good base for dealing with ropes and knots and other equipment. The period of time when I was interested in caving was very intense and rewarding. I have good memories of all the things I learned while doing it.

Q: When you were 21 years old you made an attempt on Broad Peak in the Karakoram. Why did you start climbing on 8000m peaks so early?

A: It was just a coincidence. I was not really interested in 8000m peaks. My main goal was climbing hard routes in the Alps or elsewhere. I was planning to go to Bolivia but instead I got the chance to join a group of people going to Broad Peak. It was not something that I had been planning for months.

Q: Climbing 8000m peaks is a tough game requiring a lot of physical endurance. This is not traditionally considered a feminine quality. Have you had to train a lot?

A: I don’t agree with your idea that endurance is not a feminine quality. If that were true there wouldn’t be any women competing in Olympic events like, for example, the marathon or the ten thousand meters. The same goes for the feminine Tour de France (Tour de Feminine) or Giro, triathlons or Ironman events. But besides this little disagreement, training is necessary for both men and women. I don’t know any single human being, male or female, who is able to stand up one day and climb an 8000m peak after having sat on a couch for a couple of years.

Q: As a woman, can you help change the dynamic of a group or influence certain decisions?

A: When I am climbing, I don’t think as a woman. I think as a climber. And whatever I decide is a consequence of my experience, my skills, or my desires. Whatever the circumstances, when my companions ask me for my opinion, they don’t expect me to give them a miracle answer simple because I’m a woman. I don’t have special powers! Any human being can change the dynamic of the group and influence a decision, independent of their gender.

Q: You must have some interesting stories of expedition climbing. Can you tell us one?

A: On K2 in 2002, while we were shooting the documentary “Women of K2″, we found the remains of Dudley Wolfe. He was a very wealthy climber who, in 1939, became the mountains first victim. He died in his tent at 7800m. We found his remains on the glacier at 5300m. Over 63 years the glacier had transported his body 2500 vertical meters down the mountain!

Q: What do you think about people trying to climb all the 8000m peaks? Is it not more worthwhile attempting unclimbed peaks?

A: I cannot tell people what is best, it’s a matter of respect. Everyone chooses their own way to do things, push their own limits. Different styles, different climbers. And you know what? I don’t really care about that stuff, and I care even less about telling anybody what I think is best.

Q: In 1995 you attempted a new route on Everest in alpine-style despite being young and having little experience. Why did you choose such an ambitious project?

A: My “lack of experience” at that time consisted of:

* Going to depth of 1070m in a cave when I was 17 years old

* Climbing Mount Kenya at 20

* Reaching 7100m on Broad Peak at 21

* Making the first repeat ascent of the Lorentan-Kurtyka on Shishapangma Central (8012m) in alpine style at 22

* Making a 3-day winter ascent on the Midi d’Ossau

* Climbing The Nose on El Capitan and doing Regular Route on Half Dome in a day.

*Climbing the Bonatti Pillar on the Dru and making day ascents of the Walker SPur and The Shroud on the Grandes Jorasses.

* Doing the Vinatzer-Messer on the Marmolada in a day.

*And also making attempts on the north face of the Eiger, the Triolet and Mount Maudit.

So although I don’t consider that I was the most skilled climber in the world, I had done enough to try something harder without being worried about my ability. And now to answer the most interesting part of your question: the reason we chose an ambitious route was the result of a natural evolution in our group. No oxygen, no porters, lightweight style and a beautiful line to the summit; those were the premises that we grew up with and that we always try to follow. They give our climbs meaning.

Q: You have often failed to summit an 8000m by a few hundred meters. How does failure-if we can call it that-effect you?

A: It depends on the reason for why I turned back. Most of the time it is because I cannot deal with the weather (which someone else maybe could), the snow conditions are dangerous or we run out of time. I don’t make my living from climbing, or having full time sponsors, so I don’t have pressure. I can keep my climbs as quiet as I choose.

The most important thing is going back home convinced that I did all I could, all that was humanly possible. John Hunt, the leader of the 1953 Everest expedition said something like “If you cannot go back home from an expedition saying that the human experience was enriching, none of it makes any sense.” I really enjoy this life – my friends, skiing, biking or climbing in Siurana or the Pyrenees – so I always make sure I’ll be back. I don’t have anything to prove.

Q: Are there any “girl things” that you really can’t do without on a long trip?

A: Yes. Tampax.

Q: Are you interested in technical climbing on some of the world’s big walls, like Trango or in Patagonia and Yosemite?

A: I like the challenge of a beautiful line, the idea of pushing my skills to their limits. And I’m not necessarily talking about very difficult routes. I’m talking about MY limits, whatever my level is. That kind of route also forces you to work the line yourself, so it is very rewarding, even if you don’t summit. You know that you reached that point by yourself, without the help of others.

Q: What does the search for difficulty in climbing mean for you?

A: It’s pushing climbing to levels that exceed our expectations.

Q: What is your relationship with fear and danger?

A: One of respect. They know me, I know them. They don’t hurt me, I don’t hurt them.

Q: The area you live in is world renowned for it’s sport climbing. What does this rock represent to for you?

A: It’s a relationship of love. We live together but we don’t see each very often, so ever time we meet it is passionate.

Q: Do you think that your looks or your modeling work have helped you develop your relationship with the media?

A: I believe that I have interesting things to say, whatever my face looks like. I’m not an ugly person, but believe me, a real model looks very different. But it’s a fact that looks are important for the media. For good or for bad, that’s the way it works.

Q: What do you think alpinism in Spain? Are there any alpinists that are pushing the limits?

A: Oh yes, there are a few, but they are not in the magazines.

Q: Why do you travel so much? Is it a need to escape from everyday life, or do you enjoy life in Spain?

A: I climb a lot at home and in the Alps, which is nearby. Most of the time when I go away it is because I have a friend somewhere to climb with. I recently went to Canada to climb with Barry Blanchard, just to spend a nice time together.

Q: In you motivational lectures, how do you manage to explain mountain climbing to ordinary people?

A: I don’t talk about the meaning of climbing. I talk about people. And people are the same everywhere, on the mountains, in a boat, at the office or in a family.

Q: How would you define alpinism in three words?

A: Source of meaning. Life makes sense after climbing.

Q: Do you think that media pressure can influence climbers decisions in the mountains?

A: Speaking of my personal experience, I would say that I don’t feel any influence. As I said before, climbing is not my main source of income, so I can quit trips when I want and don’t have to get involved with the media. I guess there are people that will feel pressure and feel they have to perform at a certain level, or do more and more spectacular ascents every time, but I don’t really have enough knowledge about that to make a point.

Q: Is media exposure a psychological advantage, or a disadvantage?

A: It is a label.

Q: You have worked a lot for television and have participated in many films. What image of climbing and mountaineering do you try to communicate to the public?

A: I have been in front of the camera on a few documentaries; The IMAX “Everest” film, The National Geographic “Women of K2″ and recently “The Great Climb” for the BBC. I wouldn’t call that a lot of movies.

I always try to be very honest, to make a distinction between different climbing styles. I don’t like ambiguity or exaggeration. When we came back from Everest in 96′, I almost lost my voice trying to explain in each interview that the way I summited Everest didn’t contribute to mountaineering in any way. I used oxygen from the last camp and I used fixed lines. The amazing thing on that expedition was filming the IMAX documentary, that’s the part I was proud of.

As a climber I value a hundred times more our attempt on the Hornbein Coulour in 95 with just a little pack, even if we didn’t summit. But I guess the media didn’t like to hear that and they preferred to sell the story of me being the first Spanish woman to summit Everest.

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Photo by Araceli Segarra: Araceli Segarra and Michael Brown

Q: Are climbing and mountaineering the same thing?

A: They are complimentary. I need them both to keep a balance.

Q: You have visited many different places. Is there any one that you feel particularly attached to?

A: Many. Patagonia, the Kanchenjunga valley, a bunch of places that I have seen in friends photos but I haven’t had a chance to visit yet. But I love my own region a lot. There are some lovely places and I feel lucky to have them so close.

Q: What’s your next challenge?

A: Raising my rock climbing standard. Finishing the seven children’s picture books I’m working on. The first two will be published in Spanish and Catalan on March 28th, and the rest will be published at 6 month intervals after that. And finishing the second part of the IMAX documentary on Everest that we started filming last spring and which includes 3D images of the ice fall. It will probably be ready October 2009.

And I’m still preparing a few climbing projects.

**This interview with Araceli Segarra was conducted by Maurizio Oviglia from Vertical Magazine: featured on pages 62 – 71

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A series of wonderful children’s books by Araceli Segarra: Click the above banner to read about Tina and her adventures around the world climbing the 7 Summits!

More About Araceli Segarra:

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Photo courtesy of Peter Donovan

**I was born in Lleida, a city near by the Pyrenees (Spain). I am the youngest of 4 siblings. My oldest brother took me kayaking when I was only 9 years old. This same brother was the one who a little later introduced me to spelunking when he took me to the local alpine club. Here I met people that were doing all kinds of outdoor sports. I tried all of them.

**When I was 17 I did a 1076 m deep descent in a cave in the Pyrenees.

**When I was 19 I went to Morocco to climb Tub Kal. I afforded this trip art painting a car. First I had to peel off with sand paper all of the old paint; it was hard work. After drawing the picture I painted it: a circular landscape around the car, from the forest to the desert to the mountains. It took me three weeks.

**When I was 20, I went for two months to Ireland to teach climbing at a YMCA. I didn’t speak any English at the time but I learned some there. After that I went to Kenya to climb mount Kenya 5180m high. To afford this trip I worked as a baby sitter.

**When I was 21, I worked at an outdoor store in the mornings and as a secretary in the afternoons. I went to school at night. After I finished school I worked for some time drawing territorial limits in aerial maps. This is how I paid for my first expedition to the Himalayas. My objective was Broad Peak 8047 in Pakistan, one of the world’s 14 mountains that surpass 8000m. We didn’t reach the summit but I got to a personal high of 7100 m.

**In 1992, when I was 22 years old, I moved to Barcelona to go to the university to study physiotherapist. In Barcelona I got in contact with a group of very good climbers. With them I went Shisha Pangma 8008 in Tibet. We climbed to the summit by the steep and difficult south face. We did the second ascent of the Swiss-polish route alpine stile; no oxygen, no sherpas, no fixed ropes, no pre established camps.

**After this climb, we felt very good together so we began planning an expedition with the very same team to Everest for spring 95.
In 1993 I spent the summer climbing in the USA. I visited Yosemite, where I climbed the Nose on el cap, and the regular on Half dome. I also went to Devils Tower, Joshua Tree, Owens River Gorge and a few more sport climbing areas.

**In 1994 preparing for next year’s Everest expedition, I got myself a personal trainer. I trained every morning from 10am to 1pm. I went to school from 3pm to 9pm, and on weekends, I climbed, biked, ski or hike to round my preparation. I was missing university parties on Thursday nights, so I wouldn’t compromise my Friday morning training session. This year I did my first advertising for TV with NIKE.

**In the fall of 1995 as part of the Catalonian expedition I had climb Sisha Pangma with, I went to Tibet to attempt the North Face of Everest. The weather was not good that year and I turned around with very cold toes at 7,800 m.

**It was during this expedition that I met American climber and filmmaker David Breashers. He invited me to take part of next year’s Everest IMAX Expedition.

**In winter of 1995 I went to a competition in Patagonia (Argentina) the RAID GAULOISES. 11 days of non-stop hiking, running, climbing, kayaking in lakes, rivers and wild water, horse riding. We were the first woman only team in the history of the event not to finish in last place. We finished 21st out of 42 teams.

**When I came back home I got the news that the IMAX producer company “Macgylavry” wanted me as the fourth member in the team.
In March of 1996, I left home 25 years old and with a bunch of illusions in my pocket. I came back 26 years old in June and with Everest’s summit. I became the first Spanish woman to climb Everest.

**Just a few months after my Everest climb I went to Tibet to work as assistant camera for the Hollywood film Seven Years in Tibet.

**In 1997 I went back to work as a physiotherapist, this time with handicapped children.

**In the fall of I went back to the Himalayas, with my friends from Barcelona.

**We went to India to try to climb a virgin mountain 6796m high.
In February of 1998 the Everest IMAX film was released.

**Right from the beginning the film was a big success everywhere it was shown. I never expected it to be seen by so many people.

**With all the exposure I was given I started receiving offers for lectures, presentations, endorsements of products………

**During all of that year I was very active doing IMAX film premieres around Europe and the USA. I also did a couple TV commercials (one for Danone and another one for EVAX), a promotional video for Polartec, a slide show tour for Mountain Hardware. It was a very busy year.

**In 1999 a started doing lectures and conferences for corporations, talking about teamwork and related subjects. This same year I hosted a one hour radio program about traveling.

**By year’s end I needed to do some climbing and I managed to find the time to go rock climbing in Mali.

**Next year began very promising with an offer to work on TV conducting a half an hour documentary about Mountains and nature.

**I also started writing articles about traveling for a web site and in February I went to Lebanon to do a 2 week cross country sky traverse in the main range of the country.

**When I came back I received an award from Elle magazine for “styles of the year”.

**I spent the summer in China trying to climb K2 by the very impressive north ridge. I reached a highpoint of 7 500 m. You can still read about this 3 month long expedition on: http://www.terra.es/deportes

**In 2001 I headed to Nepal for Kangchenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain in the world. I was trying to become the second woman to climb it, but I had to turn down 500m bellow the summit because the bad weather and cold toes.

**2002 was my third season with the TV show. This year I did various advertising jobs on TV and Magazines, and I spent the winter ice climbing in the canadian rockies, training for an upcoming expedition, again to K2. I was the leader and organizer of this expedition. A National Geographic film crew joined my team to shoot the climb as part of documentary about “woman and K2”. I expend the end of the year in Patagonia, trying to climb Fits Roy, but as usual the very strong wind and the snow didn’t aloud as to go very far.

**In 2003 I will be combining my job as a speaker on business companies with a new expedition on G1 (8.063 m), and trying latter on K2 again. Finally, some incidents let as at 60 m (180 feet) from the summit of G1 and with not motivation to go to K2. The autumn season bring me back motivation and energy, after climbing the summit of Ama Dablam (6.812 m), in Nepal, one of the most beautiful mountains in earth, in just 5 h from camp II. Mexico is always a got start for a new year (2004), and then on March, and the end of the ice climbing season, I just climb one of the most well know ice falls in Canada, “La Pomme d’Or”.

**I would spend spring of 2004 climbing in Pakistan, on the Nameless Tower. I lead the most difficult and exposed pitch of the Slovenian route, a 5.11a slab at 5.500 m of altitude. WE couldn’t reach the summit though, because of bad weather.

**During the post monsoon climbing season of 2005 I tried 8.585 m high Kanchenjunga with a small team for the second time. Again, due to bad weather and the fact that we where the only expedition on the mountain, we had to desist after 2 months of trying. That year we lost all of our climbing equipment, because we were not able to reach camp II again after so much snow hade fallen. During the whole 2 moths that the expedition lasted we only had 5 days of clear weather. I would spend the summer climbing long rock routes in the Thagia gorge in Morocco.

**2006 became a successful year. Starting with difficult ice climbing routes in Canada. Then she return to rock climb hard (7b+) and long (600 m) routes in the unknown Taghia. Also visited Bolivia where she climbed 3 pick and finished the year at the 4.420 m of summit Malinche in México.

**In the Spring of 2007 I return to Everest with Jamling Norgay to start filming the second part on the IMAX documentary. Went to Alaska on summer to see kayak and work as an assistant camera and photographer for a Discovery Channel documentary about climate change.

www.seracfilms.com/projects/expedition_alaska/expedition_alaska.htm

I end the summer climbing in Scotland for a BBC TV show “the great climb”. www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/greatclimb/sec1_pg8_2.shtml. The rest of the year I was dedicated to finishing one of my most ambitious projects, a series of 7 illustrated children’s book, that will launch on Spring 2008.

**In Spring 2008 “Tina en el Everest “ & “Tina en la Antarctica” . In autumn “Tina en el Aconcagua” was published too. I spend time in summer climbing in USA and helping also in this amassing project. http://www.craigandkelly.com/photogalleryhalfdome-aerial.htm . Now we are getting ready to go back to Everest and finish the Imax documentary in 3D, “Everest the Return”.

@Araceli Segarra 2009

FEATURED JANUARY 2009 GUEST: Peter Athans, Explorer/Mountaineer/Filmmaker

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – The Essence of Destiny: author unknown

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Peter Athans: Explorer/Mountaineer/Filmmaker

A interview with Peter Athans on leadership, setting and achieving goals, and the rewards of philanthropy.

Q: What are some of the most important characteristics of a good expedition leader?

A: I think the most important qualities are patience, humility, a great sense of humor, and the ability to assess risk and team strengths. Knowing one’s personal limitations and taking the time to admit ones’s fatigue and need for rest are also critical parts of good leadership. Excellent communication skills and the ability to make a community of the base camp with one’s western and Sherpa team are essential. It is a multifaceted job description and goes well beyond the skills required to climb rock, snow and ice.

Q: What is the greatest internal challenge a mountaineer might face during an expedition?

A: The waiting for the best conditions; the tedium of certain tasks; balancing commercial interests and safety; keeping it fun.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in the mountains and how have you integrated that lesson into successfully managing your daily life?

A: Realizing that excellent teamwork and patience are probably the solutions to many, if not most of climbing and life’s biggest challenges. In my daily life, my wife and I are a team for raising our family, working and facing all of life’s obstacles. At work with The North Face, we have a team approach to our expeditions, to our marketing program and our product design process. Creating effective teams, implementing them and delegating authority and then finally have the patience to let them run and develop the team’s flow are next.

Q: In your experience, what do you believe is the most effective tool, internal and external, when setting and achieving any goal?

A: I have probably answered it above, but inexhaustible patience coupled with persistence and utmost clarity of vision when goal setting seem the most elemental to success.

Q: People climb mountains for all kinds of personal reasons. What first motivated you to climb Mount Everest, and did your own personal reasons evolve as you became more familiar with the mountain?

A: At first blush I found my identity as an alpinist and preferred more difficult, technically challenging objectives, and then quite naturally wanted to take the skills I had painstakingly learned to the highest and most remote mountains on Earth: the Himalaya. Simultaneously, I have also found a sense of liberation and transcendence in the world’s high places and was inspired by the Buddhist traditions existing in Everest’s foothills to explore my relationship with the natural world as it relates to the concept of sacred sanctuary.

I view mountaineering as having the capacity to become a pilgrimage and the expeditionary experience has the potential to be more expansive than the simple overcoming of technical obstacles in what we call real phenomena, real rock, snow or ice. I also became fascinated with the pre-Buddhist traditions of the region, the practice of Bon, which, according to some scholars has been in existence for more than eighteen thousand years. Climbing has become, for me, a tool for enlightment and transcendence and I hope to be able to continue climbing for quite some time.

Q: If there are any questionable reasons to climb Mount Everest, or any mountain for that matter, that may not best serve a climber when the going gets tough, what might they be?

A: I think climbing Everest for any competitive reason or as an answer to financial deficiency are bound to be met with dissapointment. More than 4000 people have climbed Everest now and the rewards for climbing it are the process alone.

Q: What advice can you pass on to someone who might be struggling with a personal and professional goal?

A: Atomize the challenge or obstacle down to it’s most essential elements. Strategize an action plan to address those elements either individually or get assistance from people who you respect and admire who have a history of overcoming obstacles both overwhelming and small. Rigorously evaluate your progress and maintain flexibility in your approach. Work intensely while simultaneously having the patience for a long horizon. Every day, take time away from your goals for refreshment and fun, plus physical activity to replenish the spirit.

Q: Do you have a personal “mantra” or code of conduct you rely on when handling a difficult situation or people who are having a challenging time managing their own attitude on a climb?

A: I think those are two questions. Difficult situations require much of what I have mentioned in the questions above; people who have an attitude issue can be a different challenge because inspiring, motivating and changing people’s minds largely relies on them. Motivating them by telling them their survival depends on their remaining focused, calm and perceptive helps! Reminding people that safety is dependent on maintaining an expansive perspicacity while being utterly frank about one’s personal condition is another important factor for those climbing Everest.

Q: You have been involved in several projects that support the lives and health of the Sherpa people of Nepal. What are those projects and how can someone get involved to help?

A: Thank you for asking! Firstly, the Himalayan Cataract Project that provides sight restoring surgery to indigent Nepalese suffering from Cataract blindness is one of my favorite and well documented organizations. They can be researched at www.cureblindness.org

The Magic Yeti Libraries which provide illustrated texts and inspire literacy in young children is a program our family and friends started a few years back that most people can assist with the donation of either funds or books. The Khumbu Climbing School that fosters professionalism in mountain guiding for Sherpas is another of my favorite projects. People can leran more about the Magic Yeti Libraries and the Khumbu Climbing School at www.alexlowe.org

Light of the Himalaya from Michael Brown: Serac Adventure Films The North Face athlete team joins eye surgeons from Nepal and America in hopes of making a difference.

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About Peter Athans:

In 2002 Peter climbed Mount Everest for a record breaking seventh time and he hasn’t stopped climbing since. With more than 40 Himalayan expeditions to his credit, he is one of the most experienced mountaineers active in the world today.

While climbing inspires his passion, he has also enabled the Himalayan Cataract Project to provide sight restoring surgery to the indigent Nepalese suffering from cataract blindness. Further, he co-founded with family and friends the Magic Yeti Libraries, inspiring literacy in pre-school age children in several under-developed Himalayan localities.

Additionally, he is a board member with the Khumbu Climbing School that instills professional guiding and medical training in Sherpa guides. Finally, he’s explored ancient Buddhist caves in Mustang, revealing to the world their archaeological richness. With cave entrances hundreds of feet above the ground, technical rope access is essential.

In 2006 Pete’s team discovered a 30 foot long Mural created during the 13th century amongst other significant antiquities, ancient documents and human remains. The results of his team’s ground breaking discoveries will be featured on PBS, National Geographic, and France 5 in 2009.

David A. Sowles Award: Granted by The American Alpine Club, this award is given to climbers who distinguish themselves by accepting great personal risk and sacrificing their own objectives to assist fellow climbers who are in distress. In 1996, Peter exhibited great compassion and selflessness in the rescue of Beck Weathers and Makalu Gau during one of Mount Everest’s most lethal climbing seasons.

Awarded the Dupont Columbia Golden Baton for Excellence in Journalism and Film (with the crew from NOVA) 1997

Awarded The Explorers Club Tenzing Norgay Award, 2005

Awarded Horace Mann School/Columbia Alumni prize for Philanthropic work

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To learn more about our other guests on the Mt. Everest Mind Camp please visit:

www.mteverestmindcamp.com

FEATURED DECEMBER 2008 GUEST: Ariane de Bonvoisin, CEO and Founder the First30Days

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.”  – George Bernard Shaw

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The 9 Principles of Change with Ariane de Bonvoisin

Principle 1: People who successfully navigate change have positive beliefs.

Your biggest need right now is to develop new beliefs: about yourself, about this change, and about life in general. Nothing will have a bigger impact on the way yu move through change.

Principle 2: People who successfully navigate change know that change always brings something positive into their lives.

Every change has a gift associated with it. While it’s natural to find change hard it’s important to remember that there are two sides to every coin and that something positive will always come. This is by far the most important belief to have during the first thirty days of change.

Principle 3: People who successfully navigate change know they are resilient, strong, and capable of getting through anything.

You are much stronger, much smarter, and much more intuitive than you have ever been told. You are more resilient and more powerful. Once you truly know and believe this, you will be able to get through any change- even the hardest one you can imagine.

Principle 4: People who successfully navigate change know that every challenging emotion they feel is not going to stop them and will guide them to positive emotions that help them feel better.

Negative emotions can stall us, making change harder, while the positive ones can help us move through a change in a simpler, quicker, and more conscious way.

Principle 5: People who successfully navigate change know that the quicker they accept the change, the less pain and hardship they will feel.

Let go of the idea of how life should be.

Principle 6: People who successfully navigate change use empowering questions and words, think better thoughts, and express their feelings.

At your most stuck point, if you can speak with different words, think a slightly better thought, and get in touch with how you are feeling, you can become unstuck in a matter of minutes.

Principle 7: People who successfully navigate change know they are connected to something bigger than themselves.

When everything around you is changing, look for the part of you that doesn’t change. The part that is calm, centered and always there.

Principle 8: People who successfully navigate change are not alone; they surround themselves with people who can help, who have the right beliefs and skills. And they create an environment that supports their change.

One of our biggest flaws as human beings is that we keep thinking we are alone. Whatever the situation, there is always, always someone who can help.

Principle 9: People who successfully navigate change take action. They have a plan and know how to take care of themselves.

Actions come in many forms. Some are big and obvious; some are so small you may think they are irrelevant. But any god action you take is a choice to move forward.

About Ariane de Bonvoisin

The First30Days is a New York City-based media company focused on guiding people through all types of changes, both personal and professional. Ariane is both Founder and CEO of the company, which launched its beta web site with nearly 50 life change subjects in February 2008.

With Ariane’s experience in new media, she knew the impact it could have when used in the right way to help people, build community, and share information and resources. Building the First30Days online seemed like the best place to reach people quickly. Ariane and her team are also intent on extending the First30Days brand from the Internet to books, mobile devices, television, radio, magazines, and newspapers.

Prior to her launch of First30Days and her time at Charlie Rose Productions, Ariane spent a year as a Senior Advisor on a Humanitarian Project, A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AFRICA. The project involved the top 100 photojournalists placed in the 53 countries of Africa on a single day.

Her previous professional experience includes being tapped by Time Warner to become the Managing Director of a new $500 million digital media venture fund in 2000. The Fund’s mission was to take non-controlling equity stakes in early stage, potentially strategic, technology companies.

After acquiring a degree in Economics from the London School of Economics and International Relations at the age of 19, Ariane began her professional career at the Boston Consulting Group based in London. She worked in over a dozen countries during her tenure at BCG.

Upon receiving an MBA from Stanford University, she moved to New York, and began working with media giants BMG and Sony Music. She held the position of Strategic Assistant to the Worldwide Chairman and CEO of BMG Entertainment.

Ariane’s duties at BMG involved presentations to the Board, updates on profit center performances, analysis of new business initiatives, review of budgets and business plans.  At SONY, her responsibilities included sourcing, evaluating, structuring and negotiating Internet deals for Sony Music and the Sony Venture Fund.

Ariane also is an accomplished athlete, having been a professional swimmer, a ski instructor, and completed a series of marathons and triathlons. Constantly seeking new challenges, she reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in January 2001 and accompanied a group of students to Antarctica in December 2002.

Ariane was also recently touted as an “up and comer” to Silicon Alley Insider’s annual list of the most influential folks in New York digital business. She has a monthly column in Redbook magazine; is a Life Balance expert for Health Magazine and will be a contributor to Best Life magazine in December 2008.

Her new book entitled, “The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Any Change” was published by Harper Collins in May 2008. Ariane appeared on NBC’s Today Show, and the CBS Early Show, among other media outlets as part of her national book tour.

FEATURED NOVEMBER 2008 GUEST – John Wood CEO Room to Read

YOU SAY YOJohn WoodU WANT A REVOLUTION?

Advice on Changing the World

Stop Talking, Start Acting

If you are thinking about making some adjustments in your life to allow you to help change the world, my heartfelt recommendations is not to spend too much time thinking about it. Just dive in.

I know that all kinds of practical considerations make this advice difficult to embrace. There might be student loans to be repaid, the need for advice from friends and family, and the desire to write a serious business plan. I am not saying that you should not do any of these things – just that you should not spend too much time on them or you will lose momentum.

The biggest risk is that a lot of people will try and talk you out of pursuing your dream. The world has too many people who are happy to discuss why something might not work, and too few who will cheer you on and say “I’m there for you.” The more time you spend navel-gazing, the longer you give those negative gravitational forces to keep you in their tether.

As an example, I would site our work in Sri Lanka. After the devastating tsunami, I had to prove to myself that I had the guts to follow my own advice. News reports indicated that hundreds of schools had been destroyed in Indonesia and Sri Lanka.  Room to Read did not work in either of those countries, so it was difficult to decide how we could help.  But I knew deep in my heart that “We don’t work there, it’s not our problem” was not an answer worthy of a bold, young charity that had never been willing to accept limits.

So I proposed to our team, and to our board, that we immediately launch operations in Sri Lanka, raise a million dollars to get started, and begin to identify communities whose schools had been destroyed. There was, needless to say, a Greek chorus telling my why we couldn’t do this-”We don’t have staff there.”  “Room to Read is not licsensed to work in Sri Lanka.”  “We’re already busy enough with our existing five countries.”

On January 3, I convened an emergency call of the board of directors, and we included Erin, our chief operating officer, to gain her invaluable perspective. All of us were united in our desire to help tsunami victims, yet also scared of diving into something so new.

I made my case:

“We’ve been working in South Asia (Nepal and India) for over five years now. We’ve partnered with over fifteen hundred communities throughout Asia to get new schools and libraries built. We know how to do this. Yes, Sri Lanka will be new for us, but it’s not as though we have not launched new countries before. And I think it’s important to remember that Room to Read is an organization that has been built on an ethos of bold thinking and direct action. Do we want to say to these devastated communities, “Sorry, but this is not part of our business plan, so we can’t help you?”

There was dead air on the phone. I was sweating. This was potentially a moment that would cause me to lose faith in our team’s ability to think big about creating change. The silence was broken by a member of our Board, whose opnion I greatly respected. “We know very little about Sri Lanka. If we want to make this decision, we should do a three-month study of the situation, then decide.”

More dead air. Now I was really sweating.

Another Board member responded immediately. “With all due respect, if back in 1998 John had decided to do a three-month study of the situation in Nepal, he would probably never even launched Room to Read. The study would have revealed so many daunting obstacles that he would have become a pessimist, and none of the great accomplishments of the last six years would have been reality. I think that we should go in.”

A third member of the Board opined, “You’re both right in your own way. We should move quickly because the children of Sri Lanka should not have to wait. But we have to realize that with a fast launch without a detailed study, we will hit obstacles. We should think about them in advance and plan our responses. We also need to trust our team to adjust and to figure things out, just as they always have.

Internally, I cheered, then suggested a vote. The board was unanimous in approving the immediate launch Room to Read Sri Lanka. In our rookie year there, we began construction on 40 schools and also opened 25 libraries.

Sometimes, it’s really important to move with all deliberate speed. If there is something out there that you want to do to make the world a better place, don’t focus on the obstacles. Don’t ask for permission. Just dive in. Don’t let the naysayers get you down.

Excerpted from Leaving Microsoft to Change the World-An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children by John Wood, CEO of Room to Read (pages 237-238 Harper Collins 2006)


DR. SHANNA TEEL Ph.D.- Featured October 2008 Guest

“Making Conscious Choices and Practicing Self Awareness”

“Not in his goals, but in his transitions man is great”.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am very excited to be a contributor to Mt. Everest Mind Camp. Stephanie Graham’s mission of bringing together like minded, soulful people from different backgrounds to one website is an honorable and exciting mission that I am proud to be a part of. I am also honored to be a guest on this site along with the  accomplished athletes, speakers, and professionals featured here, so a virtual thank you to all involved.”

As a management consultant, executive coach and speaker I am in a privileged position of helping individuals create more productive, healthy and meaningful work environments for themselves and others.  Although each individual, team or organization I work with brings their unique set of challenges and accomplishments, I have noticed some similar themes emerge. This month I would like to share with you the theme of “Making Conscious Choices and Practicing Self Awareness” and how the small daily choices we make influences the quality of our lives.

The idea of Choices and Decision Making has been written about and theorized by many before me and, yet I feel compelled to discuss this idea again. We make thousands of decisions a day and many decisions we make occur in milliseconds. From the moment we wake our brain gets busy on making choices. We choose to hit snooze; we choose what food to eat and what morning beverage to drink; we choose our clothing for the day; we choose which way to drive to work; we choose to exercise or not; we choose to push ourselves through a tough deadline; we choose how to react to the stresses throughout the day; we choose how we will feel after the stresses and challenges of the day creep up on us; and we choose how to react when we make a mistake and the mistake is discovered. I could continue, but you get the point. Although we make a tremendous amount of choices each day, we often lose sight of the fact that with each choice we have an opportunity to create a conscious choice.

Conscious choices result in more productive outcomes and personal accountability. A conscious choice is simply a thoughtful choice or decision where we are prepared to accept full accountability for the outcome(s). We have a tendency to forget that some of things we do and their respective outcomes are the result of our choices, mostly because we were not conscious when we made them! For example, it is easy to accept that I chose to hit the snooze button therefore I was late for work.  It becomes increasingly more difficult to accept that when I am having a bad day and I am in a terrible mood, that this bad mood is a choice…that I have chosen to be in a bad mood.

How often do you remind yourself that your mood is a choice?
How often do you remind yourself that your reactions are a choice?

Importantly, the choices about our feelings and responses to life’s’ events help determine the quality of our lives. To make a choice to be stressed-out after you get in a car wreck, might be forgiven by others, yet it is this type of choice that determines the quality of the rest your day. To make a choice to be in a bad mood because your boss yelled at you, this is a choice. The point here is that every life situation requires you to choose your response and it is your response that will determine how your day turns out. At the end of the day if you say, “Boy, I’ve had a lousy day” keep in mind you made it lousy.  But at the end of the day, if you say,“that was a great day”—you made it a great a day, you chose to make it a great day. Remind yourself on a regular basis that you have a choice about your reaction. You may not have chosen an event or the outcome, but you have the power to choose your reaction.

Your small daily choices determine the quality of your life.

At times I have wished to find the ONE secret recipe for creating a successful, meaningful, productive life. Although I have not found one recipe, I have discovered two very special ingredients to aid in my quest to create a successful, meaningful, productive life. These two powerful ingredients (aka, actions) include: Choices and Self Awareness. See Figure 1.

In addition to making good choices for yourself and being in control of consciously creating your choices, how often do you sit and reflect on the choices you’ve made and their outcomes? John Maxwell, a leadership development author and speaker, states that, “development happens daily.” Although he refers to this in the context of leaders developing themselves, I believe it is relevant to humans developing themselves.

Are you consciously developing yourself every day?

The average population will typically answer ‘No’ to this question. Below are two simple exercises to help you focus on your development each day. The exercises below (Exercises  A – C) should take no longer than 5 minutes each. I would recommend getting a journal and keeping track of your learning and development.

To combine the powers of consciously creating your choices and bringing more self-awareness into your life allows you to create a more meaningful, productive and peaceful life for yourself and others.
Good Luck and Happy Consciousness!

Exercise A:

In your Learning Journal, take a few minutes to reflect on the following at the end of your day:

1.  What choices did I make today that contributed to the quality of my life?
2.  What choices did I make today that distracted from the quality of my life?

Exercise B:

Reflect on today’s events/situations. Pick an event that did not have the outcome you desire. Take 5 minutes to reflect and write your responses to these questions in your learning journal.

1.  What role did I play in this event or situation?
2.  What did I do that was effective, productive or constructive?
3.  What did I do that was ineffective, unproductive or destructive?
4.  What have I learned?
5.  What will I do differently next time?

Exercise C:

Reflect on today’s events and situations. Pick an event that had a desirable outcome. Take 5 minutes to reflect and write your responses to these questions in your learning journal.

1. What role did I play in this event or situation?
2. What did I do that was effective, productive or constructive?
3. What did I do that was ineffective, unproductive or destruct ive?
4. What have I learned?
5. What will I do differently next time?

Daily Choices + Self-Awareness = Quality of Life ²

@ Dr. Shanna Teel Ph.D.

ABOUT DR. SHANNA TEEL Ph.D.

Dr. Shanna Teel is the Founder and CEO of Dr. Shanna Teel & Company, a leadership development and human capital consulting firm. She has had a dynamic career as an influential and inspirational business owner, consultant, coach and speaker, and holds the distinction of being called the “Oprah of Corporate America”.

Join Dr. Teel Ph.D. as she gives you greater insight into how we operate in our daily lives and how this affects the outcome of our goals and dreams and our outlook on life in her article, “Making Conscious Choices and Practicing Self Awareness”.

LAURENCE GONZALES-Featured September 2008 Guest

“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.”
- Anna Freud

This month we share a little Q &A with Laurence Gonzales on the characteristics that define a survivor and learn more about The 12 Rules of Survival from his popular book Deep Survival – Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why.

Q: How would you define a survivor?

A: A survivor is anyone who successfully navigates life’s challenges. The stories we hear the most about are those of shipwrecks or mountain climbers surviving against all odds. But without a moment’s notice, you may be called on to survive without ever leaving your home. You may get cancer. You may face divorce or business catastrophe. You may lose a loved one. All of those call on our deepest survival skills.

Q: What is the most important characteristic of the survivor?

A: To have a solid inner core. At heart, a survivor trusts himself and relies on himself. He or she is confident, but also humble. Survival is always a balancing act between opposing skills or forces. And when the crisis comes, he doesn’t say, “Oh, my God, how could this have happened to me?” A survivor doesn’t complain or blame others. He or she says, “Okay, what’s the next right thing to do to get out of this? I know that there is always one more thing I can do, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. I’m going to do my best.” That’s survivor thinking.

Q: How can I tell whether I’m a survivor?

A: You can start by looking at how you’ve reacted to adversity in the past. Are you adaptable? Do you rebound from setbacks quickly with the attitude that you’ll learn and grow through this experience? Or do you spend a lot of time blaming others for what happens to you? Do you look back on hardship with bitterness, or do you cherish it as part of what has built your character? A victim–which is what I call someone who doesn’t survive–tends to blame others and look outside himself for rescue, even from everyday difficulties. A victim slips on the sidewalk and looks around for someone to sue. A survivor says: That was careless of me. I’d better watch where I’m going. Ask yourself if you’ve struggled with adversity and prevailed with your sense of humor intact.

Q: What motivated you to dig so deep for these answers?

A: It began with my father’s remarkable story of survival during World War II; he fell 27,000 feet without a parachute, behind German lines, and lived. I tell the full story in Deep Survival. But as I grew up, I was taught in school that reason rules our lives. Yet the behavior I saw around me contradicted that. Rational people did the most irrational things, and afterward, everyone would say, “What was he thinking?” But then they’d dismiss it. I guess I never dismissed it and kept on asking: Well, what exactly was he thinking? How can people do these things and still claim to live rational lives? The answer is: We don’t. Our behavior and the outcomes it produces have much deeper explanations than that.

Q: Will reading Deep Survival give me a better chance of surviving? In the wilderness? A terrorist attack? Loss of job? A bad divorce?

A: Based on what I’ve heard from readers since the book came out, the answer is definitely yes. I have heard from everyone from cancer survivors to Navy SEALs, from firefighters to engineers who build satellites, that the principles and insights in Deep Survival speak to them at a deep level. Becoming a survivor is lifetime job. Each of us is unique but in surviving, we follow predictable patterns of behavior, emotion, and thought. Once you see those patterns, you can begin reflecting on how you live your own life, and if you can be honest with yourself, it becomes clear where you stand. It has been very gratifying to hear from readers all over the world who have used Deep Survival to push themselves from what might be a victim’s role to that of a survivor.

Q: Doesn’t luck or fate play a pretty big role in who lives or dies?

A: When I was doing a lot of work with Air Force and Navy pilots, they had a term for that type of accident. They said, “It’s not your day.” In my experience, there aren’t many “not-your-day” type of accidents. Most accidents turn out to grow from a series of little steps, little mistakes, little decisions–none of which is significant in itself–that eventually add up to a big catastrophe. In many cases, we have done the wrong thing before and gotten away with it, and that tells us that it’s okay. If we do it enough times, we get in trouble. There was a recent bush crash in which 14 people were killed. Evidently, the bus driver was speeding, eating his dinner, and lost control on a rain-slicked road. He had undoubtedly learned from experience that he could go 70 or 75 miles an hour. He had also learned that he could eat while driving. He’d gotten away with it. But in doing that, he put himself at a critical point in his ability to control the bus, and it only took a tiny push to bring him to catastrophe–a distraction, for example, coupled with the rain-slicked highway. He died because he’d unconsciously made a series of little decisions. A lot of others died, too.

Q: Is it easy to predict who in a given group will survive and who won’t? Are the traits obvious?

A: Well, if your ship is sinking and the guy next to you is screaming, “We’re all gonna die!” that’s a good indication that he might not make it. But in general, I’d say to stay away from people who are the extremely macho, Rambo types. And stay away from complainers, whiners. Look to people who have a sense of humor–especially about themselves–and a solid sense of who they are. People who make the most of the circumstances they’re in, who accept it and learn from it, people who care about others–they tend to be the better survivors. After all, survival is nothing more than adaptation to the environment in which you find yourself.

Q: Speaking of Rambo types, do Army Rangers or Navy SEALs have a better chance or survival? In one case you mention in Deep Survival, an Army Ranger drowns on a commercial rafting trip. What happened?

A: He was too well trained. Ranger training is intense. And if they have to be rescued, they’re out of the program. Rescue equals failure. When he fell into the river after the raft overturned, he pushed his rescuer away. He had survived much worse conditions than the river he was in. But his training was wrong for that particular environment. He floated away and was sucked into a hole, pinned, and drowned, probably all the while feeling that he was in control and doing the right thing. Confidence is good. Too much confidence is deadly. He lacked the humility to recognize that he didn’t understand every environment he might find himself in. So the answer is, maybe. If Rangers and SEALs, in addition to being given that intense training, are also schooled in recognizing when that training is inappropriate, then yes, they are more likely to survive.

Q: How well do kids survive? Better or worse than adults?

A: Studies have been done of how children survive when they’re lost in the wilderness. Children under the age of six or seven tend to survive better than children between the ages of six and 12–and even better than adults. But kids between the ages of six and 12 are the worst survivors when they’re lost. They’ll panic and run. They’ll even run across roads, back yards, not realizing that they might find people there. Children under six or seven haven’t yet developed a sense of getting from one place to another, so they stay put and stay warm. They still have the instincts of a little animal, and it saves them. There is evidence that young children also cope with serious illness better than adults.

Q: Have you ever been lost?

A: Yes. I’ve been lost in the woods, and I’ve been lost in my own neighborhood. Most of us are lost most of the time. We’re in environments where artificial cues, such as signs, lead us around. The slightest failure of that system will leave us lost. When I was lost in the woods–a story I tell in Deep Survival–I was found by dumb luck, and it’s a good thing, too. There was an ice storm, and I was going the wrong way, completely turned around. It would have been bad. The key here is believing that you can get lost.

Q: Beyond controlling panic, what are the most important things to do once you realize you might face a survival situation?

A: Let’s say you’ve just been told by your doctor that you have cancer. What can you do? Just like being lost in the woods, you have to sit down, calm down, and take stock of your resources. Get your friends and family together–you’re going to need a team. Learn everything you can about your disease–you’re going to need to be smart. Start building yourself a program for your health and well being–exercise, diet, activities to keep you motivated and optimistic. Attitude is everything in a survival situation, whether you’re stranded in the jungle or sitting in a hospital ward. Read the stories of other survivors to see how they did it, such as Lance Armstrong’s story or the ones in Deep Survival. If nothing else, they’ll give you a new idea of what’s possible. Believe it: It is possible to survive the impossible.

Q: Is avoiding of life-threatening situations one of the survivor’s most important tools?

A: Definitely. Let me ask you something: If you’re staying in a hotel and the fire alarm goes off, do you leave the building, or do you assume it’s a false alarm? I leave the building. Because as my flight instructor used to say, I’d rather be on the ground wishing I were in the air than in the air wishing I were on the ground. Believe it: If it looks bad, it is bad. Survivors perceive their surroundings and react accordingly. This applies in all areas of life. When a marriage goes bad, it doesn’t usually happen suddenly. The storm clouds gather gradually. Do you ignore them or seek help early on? The same is true in business. When the personal computer came along, huge companies went out of existence simply because they denied the clear evidence before them that the environment was changing radically. In avoiding such survival situations, there’s one simple rule: Perceive and believe.

Q: What about survivor schools? Is there any value in them?

A: I think everybody should go to a good survival school. It makes you think. It gives you skills. It makes you realize that you’re not always protected. And it gives you confidence. Because of the way we’re protected by civilization, we don’t have to think about survival. In today’s world, we should. The lessons learned in a wilderness survival school penetrate all the other areas of our lives if we let them. Thinking about survival–in love, in life, in business–isn’t paranoid. It’s just smart. I like to say: Everyone has a mountain to climb. Everyone has a wilderness inside. Learn to explore it or you may find yourself lost in it.

© Laurence Gonzales 2008

About Laurence Gonzales

Author of Deep Survival, Laurence Gonzales, has been studying accidents and their roots in human behavior for more than 35 years. He has published widely, won numerous awards, and appeared as a speaker before groups as diverse as the Santa Fe Institute, Legg Mason Capitol Management, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Wilderness Society.

Deep Survival

In Deep Survival Laurence Gonzales combines hard science and powerful storytelling to illuminate the mysteries of survival, whether in the wilderness or in meeting any of life’s great challenges. This gripping narrative, the first book to describe the art and science of survival, will change the way you see your world. Everyone has a mountain to climb. Everyone has a wilderness inside.

Praise for Deep Survival

“I tore through Deep Survival like I’d been waiting to read it my whole life. Gonzales’s writing is effortless and compelling, and his research is first-rate. I can’t imagine a better book on the topic.”

-SEBASTIAN JUNGER, author of The Perfect Storm

Everyday Survival

Laurence has just released his NEW book, Everyday Survival! Order your copy today!

Everday Survival by Laurence Gonzales is a MUST READ!

VISIT Mt Everest Mind Camp to learn more about the amazing people we have visiting our site for the summer and fall of 2008!

Accomplished mountaineers, award winning authors, leaders in the development of human potential, and awe inspiring philanthropists. It’s a huge menu of opportunity and we are excited to serve it up and fill your mind and spirit with motivation!


MAJKA BURHARDT – Featured August 2008 Guest

GOOD THIEVERY

“It is good to be robbed in Ethiopia,” the man says.
“It’s good to be robbed?” I ask.
“Yes, in Ethiopia.”

It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, and we are sitting in a block-and-mortar room in the back of a complex that houses the local jail, court, and magistrate. The windows are simple portals through the wall, with wooden shutters and steel locks. The floor is dirt, layered with barley shoots.

Sisters in Ethiopia
Sisters outside of their home in Nebelet, Ethiopia
Photo by Gabe Rogel

I sigh, and then ask, “Why is it good to be robbed in Ethiopia?”
“Where else would your possessions be returned?”

Earlier that day, I was 60 meters into a climb when I looked down and saw a young boy going through my pack. He and his friends went through the other packs as well, and made off with money, a camera, a watch, and two pairs of sunglasses.

Climbing in Ethiopia
Kristie Arend on the first ascent of Jewel in the Sand, 5.11, Tigray Ethiopia – Photo by Gabe Rogel

I recognized the boy when I walked into the jail compound 10 minutes ago. You can’t hide for long in this village, especially if you are wearing new, bright-blue sunglasses.

Climbing in Ethiopia
Majka waiting for a verdict in Megab court
Photo by Gabe Rogel

“Don’t you agree?” the officer asks. He holds out my camera.
I grasp it gratefully. It even still has my photos on the memory card.

“Yes,” I say. “Definitely.” I start to put the camera back in my bag.
The officer reaches over and takes the camera away from me.
“So it is yours?” he says.
“Of course.”
He tucks it into a drawer. “Good.”

Climbing in Ethiopia
Majka on the first ascent of Learning the Hard Way, 5.10+, Tigray, Ethiopia – Photo by Gabe Rogel

Three different times we will have the same interaction: I will identify my camera and have it taken away shortly thereafter. I will fill out forms in a language I don’t understand. I will walk by the jail cell that holds the boys who stole from us. I will be asked to identify which boy was at my pack and which boys were at the other packs.

Sitting on a wooden bench and leaning my head against the cool earthen wall, I worry about what will happen to the boys. We all worry. We have heard stories of disproportionate punishment in Africa. Who hasn’t? But we are in Megab, nine kilometers west of Hawzien. Everyone knows everyone here, and we are assured that everyone is fair.

Ethiopia
Ethiopian Farmer at rest below Nebelet Towers.
Photo by Gabe Rogel

Eventually, our things will be returned—well, all but Caroline’s sunglasses. Somewhere in northern Ethiopia is a boy with white-enamel aviator glasses shielding his eyes from the sun.

© Majka Burhardt 2008

Vertical Ethiopia, Climbing Toward Possibility in the Horn of Africa, by Majka Burdhart: Shama Books, 2007, page 119.

About Majka Burhardt

Majka Burhardt is a writer, climber, and AMGA Certified Guide living in Boulder, Colorado. A guide since 1998, Burhardt has guided the entire range of climbing disciplines from high-altitude mountaineering expeditions to multi-pitch alpine rock. As a lifelong adventurer, she has traveled throughout the world by bike, canoe, and, more often than not, by foot.

From the Arctic Ocean to southern Argentina, from the high peaks in the Himalayas to sea cliffs in France, she is drawn to the emotion and internal experience of exploration. Nowhere was this experience more dynamic than on her March 2007 trip to Northern Ethiopia, which despite its war-torn past, is known for having some of the richest natural areas on the continent.

When news of Burhardt’s expedition spread throughout Addis Ababa, Shama Books – an Ethiopian-based publisher – approached Burhardt towards documenting her journey to the remote and unexplored sandstone spires at the roof of Africa. The result is Vertical Ethiopia: Climbing Toward Possibility in the Horn of Africa (February 2008/$37.99) written by Burhardt, photographed by Gabe Rogel, and published by Shama Books for sale in both the U.S. and Ethiopian market.

Since February, Burhardt has spoken to diverse sets of audiences throughout the United States and Canada about Ethiopia. Her tour events have taken her from the Seattle IMAX Theater, to Book and Books in Miami Beach, to the Houston International Festival, and beyond. Her tour has recently been extended through March 2009. Her presentations combine a slideshow filled with images of climbing, culture, and the immense African landscape with a narrative behind the images. As a speaker, she is interested in exploring new ways of understanding Ethiopia in the midst of the current global landscape where religion, politics, and landscape continually interact and react. Burhardt explored Ethiopia while establishing first ascents on 600’ sandstone towers. Her presentation explores Ethiopia at its multiple points of intersection with the rest of the world.

Through working with Shama, the Ethiopian Publishing company, Burhardt learned to navigate the Ethiopian press rules in a country that has been called one of the worst in the world for freedom of the written word. In her presentation, she shares the full story of her experience—discussing various obstacles the Ethiopian press rules presented to portraying the current military offensive towards Eritrea, recent kidnappings, and the Ethiopian anti-violence movement. Thus, Vertical Ethiopia is more than a story about Ethiopia. It is a story about the making of an Ethiopian product at a time when the nation is on the brink of becoming a global industrial player while trudging through the vestiges of its communist and corrupt past.

Burhardt’s non-fiction work has appeared in Men’s Health, Patagonia, Women’s Adventure, and Climbing where she is a Senior Contributing Editor and her column “Whipped” appears bi-monthly.

Burhardt has an MFA in Creative Writing from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and received her BA from Princeton University, majoring in Anthropology. She merges these backgrounds with her passion for the outdoors and adventure in her writing.

For more information please visit:

Vertical Ethiopia

Buy Vertical Ethiopia here (http://www.majkaburhardt.com/buy-vertical-ethiopia/) and part of the proceeds of your sale will go to the Fistula Foundation, an organization dedicated to treating and eradicating Fistula in Ethiopia. Vertical Ethiopia is also available at Amazon.com and other premier retailers.

About the Photographer

Gabe Rogel is a professional photographer living in Driggs, Idaho. His work has appeared in National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Skiing, and Climbing. He often shoots for Marmot Mountain Ltd. and Patagonia Inc. www.rogelphoto.com

VISIT Mt Everest Mind Camp to learn more about the amazing people we have visiting our site for the summer and fall of 2008!