The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

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Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity…

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to climb and work with some amazing people, around the world. One of those special souls is @brb13770. Brent’s climbing career speaks for itself, with multiple Everest summits of ascents of classic routes around the world. But, what makes him unique is Brent is far more than a climber. Throughout his career, Brent has focused on making a difference by co-founding the Sagarmatha Environmental Expedition in 1994 and dedicating his time and energy to important causes around the world, earning him the Lowell Thomas Award from @the_explorers_club and the David R. Brower Award from @americanalpine. Brent also makes the hard-but-right choices on his climbs, like just this May giving up another summit of Everest to instead try to save the life of a fallen climber. Along with all that, Brent is a joy to climb with as he’s not mono-dimensional; conversations on the trail, at the belay, and in camp range from business to environmental ethics to politics, philosophy, and much more. So, a big Happy Birthday, Bishop! Hope it’s a great one, and thanks for all your contributions to our world. | In this photo, Brent climbs alongside @charley.mace at sunrise on Mt. Cook (Aoraki), New Zealand. #liveyouradventure #happybirthday

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I first took environmental science in high…

I first took environmental science in high school, and learned about the stunning complexity of our natural world and its oxymoronic power and frailty. At the same time in another building, we read the iconic “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau in English class. Thoreau, one of the first prominent environmentalists, would be 200 years old today, and his words from yesteryear ring even truer today than before. In “Walking,” written for the Atlantic in 1862, Thoreau famously proclaimed: “In Wildness is the preservation of the World.” An incredible truism both in 1862 and perhaps more so today, yet, day by day, we see our limited wildness depleted, the “civilization other than our own” (Journal, 1859) ravaged by industry, pillaged by greed, and encroached upon ever further by our insatiable desire for more and more and more. Even Thoreau’s treasured Walden Pond has not been immune to human action; in 2011, it was found to harbor dangerous levels of mercury from industrial pollution – most likely from coal fired power plants. While I recognize the need for human development across the globe – and the very real challenges posed when coupling that need with the equally-important needs of ecosystems, animals, and environments – it’s high time that our officials remember Thoreau’s words, again from Walking: “There is a difference between eating and drinking for strength and from mere gluttony.” In this country, we are daily reminded of the need to “Make America Great Again.” I’ve long wondered when that supposed great time was, and for whom. Perhaps it was in our early days, before we attacked the wildness with the tools of “civilization,” in the time when, as Thoreau reminds us, the Governor-General of Canada, Sir Franeis Head, noted: “The heavens of America appear infinitely higher, the sky is bluer, the air is fresher, the cold is intenser, the moon looks larger, the stars are brighter the thunder is louder, the lightning is vivider, the wind is stronger, the rain is heavier, the mountains are higher, the rivers longer, the forests bigger, the plains broader.” [continued in comments]

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Fun cragging on perfect limestone with the…

Fun cragging on perfect limestone with the kids, s’mores at night under starry skies, cool nights and warm days, lots of laughs, a few tears, great memories, and more than one magical sunset across the rolling hills and out to the snowy, distant Wind Rivers…Wild Iris did not disappoint. #liveyouradventure #wildiris #wyoming #pixel #shotbypixel

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Apparently completely unaffected by the hordes of…

Apparently completely unaffected by the hordes of voracious, bloodthirsty mosquitoes that kept us constantly swatting and swearing in Ten Sleep, Wyoming, Pema found ample bliss with a fast flowing creek and a ten pound boulder. Simple pleasures. Now heading to Wild Iris to hopefully find some respite from the bugs and more climbing in cooler temps. #liveyouradventure

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Evening hike up our backyard hill, Elephant…

Evening hike up our backyard hill, Elephant Butte, with Wende and the kids, with a little stunning sunset to keep the energy going. Inspiring to see how motivated they become in the natural world, laughing, climbing, observing, and enjoying the beauty outside the home. #liveyouradventure #getoutside #bestmountainartists

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I’m always amazed by the delicate creations…

I’m always amazed by the delicate creations of nature surviving and thriving in the relatively harsh ecosystem of the Colorado high country, like this stunning columbine. It’s often the simple things, tucked into corners below the towering peaks and swaying ponderosas and quaking aspens, that go unnoticed, but tell us most about our natural world. #liveyouradventure #delicatebutstrong

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Every year, a great celebration happens along…

Every year, a great celebration happens along the banks of the #Ganges River. In praise of Durga and her battle of good over evil, thousands of pandals (statues of the gods) are made – ornate statues, intricately painted and showing scenes from the sacred texts. After much celebration and revelry, they’re paraded to the banks of the Ganges and tossed into her swift waters, tumbling and churning and decomposing en route to the Bay of Bengal, their often-toxic paints and materials mixing with the myriad other effluvia in the river. While but a small part of the challenges the Ganges faces, the pandals of Durga Puja are representative of the River’s overall struggle and dichotomy: it is the reverence for the river, for the divine incarnation of Maa Ganga (Mother Ganges) which is killing the river, and it is that same reverence which is he only chance at salvation. The #Ganges River is a paradox. It’s revered and reviled. It’s pristine and polluted, beautiful and horrible, stunning and insane, all at the same time. The story of this most sacred of rivers – which @pedromcbride and I try to tell in our film Holy (un)Holy River – is a complex one, with myriad tributaries and no simple solutions. We’re thrilled to share it tonight (and tomorrow) in #Brooklyn for its New York City premiere thanks to the Brooklyn Film Festival. I’ll be there to answer questions after the film, along with our amazing editor, Anand Kamalakar, and composer, John McDowell. #liveyouradventure #holyunholyriver #BFF2017 @davidcmorton @eddiebauer @surface @natgeo

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Grizzly – Lenawee Traverse: Easy Adventure with Solitude

As the weather warms up and we start thinking about getting out into the hills for fun adventures, a recent …

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Sending a huge Happy Mother’s Day to…

Sending a huge Happy Mother’s Day to the woman who inspires me daily, challenges me always, and is the most amazing partner, confidant, traveler, mother, and world changer I could imagine. Thank you, Wende, and to my three mothers, Mom, Susan, and Lynne, and all the mothers across this huge swath of humanity who give us life and so much more. Happy Mother’s Day! | A brief stop on the trail to Sherpagaon, Rasuwa, Nepal. #liveyouradventure

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18 years ago today, my teammates and…

18 years ago today, my teammates and I scrambled about in the forlorn corners of the North Face of Mount Everest. I don’t think any of us harboured particularly high hopes that we’d find anything of great significance; we were there to find traces of a mystery from 75 years before. But as the twisted threads of luck and fate would have it, we found on that solemn morning the remains of George Mallory, one of the great and visionary climbers of his era, and of all time. Fast forward to today, and our community is mourning the loss of yet another visionary, Ueli Steck. I didn’t know Ueli well; we shared but a few cups of tea, lots of conversation, and laughter, on Everest in 2012. But I do now that his loss is much more then simply the loss of a climbing genius. Though their tools and techniques were far different – separated as they were by the passage of time and development of sport and ability – the underlying drive, motive, and passion was shared. When stripped of the pressures and perspectives of the press, and the statements and structures of sponsors, Ueli – like Mallory – I think was propelled by a true and profound love of the mountains, of the portal to self discovery and reflection they allow and, at times, force upon us. Their goals, while risky, dramatic, and tragic, we’re motivated by an underlying desire to push the boundaries of the possible to greater understand their – and our – role and place in this world. Like Mallory before him, Ueli’s abrupt and tragic passing will be looked upon by many as simply the logical outcome of a life on the edge. Perhaps so. But, I think there’s more to it than that. Most of the climbers I know, and choose to be with, do not embrace risk simply for the adrenaline, simply to tempt death. Underneath the seeming casualness, the at times cavalier approach to real consequence, is a deeper philosophy and process of thought which doesn’t make for good headlines and translates only seldom into the press and papers, but one of wanting to know where the edge of possibility lies, what this … MORE IN COMMENTS

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I’m honored to have photography featured in…

I’m honored to have photography featured in in Edwards Art Gallery at @holdernesstoday through May 28. I worked with my first photography teacher, Franz Nicolay, to curate an eclectic collection of 30 images from my varied travels, running the gamut from Mount #Everest to #Rwanda, snow leopards to elephants, monks to monuments, and more. It was at #Holderness School years ago that I first fell in love with photography as a tool to not simply capture a moment in time, but to also broaden horizons, tell stories, and delve deeper into a given experience, and it’s truly an honor to have my first real exhibit at the school. Hope to see some of you at the opening tomorrow night! | This photo, from my 2013 trip down the #Ganges with @pedromcbride and @davidcmorton, shows the peaks of the Garhwal Himalaya peeking from behind monsoon storm clouds that had just pummeled us with 3 feet of snow. #liveyouradventure

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