The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

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The Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda and the…

The Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are one of the ranges in the world being hit hardest by climate change. When the Duke of Abruzzi went there in 1906, he and his team documented some 43 distinct glaciers; less than 20 remain, and those that do have less than 25% of their mass. The loss of glaciers in the Rwenzori is not just sad for climbers and tourists. Their waters help nourish vast plains and farmlands below, home to many people and critical species. And, the Rwenzori are a key source of the White Nile, and essential waterway in Africa. I find myself thinking of these and other ranges, and indeed the climate of the world as a whole, on this day as the Republicans are forcing through a vote on Scott Pruitt to head the EPA, conveniently before he’s forced to release some 3,000 emails from his time as Oklahoma AG between him and leaders of the oil, gas, and coal industries. Convenient. Is it within the rules? Sure. Does that make it ethical? Does it show responsible governing? Not at all. I know views on climate change are varied, but most logical souls agree now that the climate is changing, and a majority agree that scientists in the field are probably right that we humans have at least a little bit to do with it. (sarcasm) It used to be that America was a nation that took on challenges, that embraced problem solving and innovation not as barriers to success, but as opportunities for more. It is this ideal – not one of backward looking, reactionary thinking – that truly made America as close to great as it ever has been. One cannot realistically deny a changing climate, whether you believe humans are causing it or not. One cannot realistically deny that burning fossil fuels is a bad thing for our planet. Likewise, one can’t deny that figuring out alternative energy systems in conjunction with conservation (isn’t that where conservative comes from?) is a good and logical path to take. So, why the denial? Why the refusal to take logical steps, to reform our systems and strategies, to position us as a nation to embrace new technologies, create new jobs, and be a leader as we once were? #reallymakeamericagreatagain

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I remember watching the awe and wonder…

I remember watching the awe and wonder on my children’s faces as the experienced true wilderness for the first time. It was a look of pure joy, innocent wonder, robust curiosity, and a zest to see more, experience more, learn more about their world and their abilities within it. They’ve known from a young age that the wild lands we have left are a precious gem, a jewel of our planet, the legacy of our nation. Like me, they treasure the wild, and fear for its future. From the rise of anti-science and alternative facts to the growing power of industry over preservation, short term economic gain for the few over long term sustainability for the many, our wild lands and all that depend on them are once again at risk. Today, let’s honor the words and legacy of Edward Abbey, and vow to save what we have left. “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” – Ed Abbey | Lila looking out over the mosaic of the Painted Desert, Arizona. #liveyouradventure

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A portion of the 360 degree panorama…

A portion of the 360 degree panorama I shot at the South Col on Mt. Everest back in 2009. I was shooting an expedition with my @eddiebauer teammates and had a spare day here at 26,000 feet, so went out to explore with @jgriber and got this view. Not a bad place for a rest day and a little hike, with views of Lhotse, Everest, Makalu, and out to Kangchenjunga in the distance. See the full, immersive panorama through the link in my profile. #liveyouradventure

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Editing photos to get my mind off…

Editing photos to get my mind off politics, and came across this one of Mt. Rossman and surrounding peaks from Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica 6 years ago. Great memories from that expedition bringing @eddiebauer back to the continent. #liveyouradventure With @khfilms @carolinewaregeorge @sethwaterfall @ed_viesturs

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In 2012, @pedromcbride went to Mt. Kenya…

In 2012, @pedromcbride went to Mt. Kenya with @kimhavell, @francothepapa, and others to tell the story of East Africa’s iconic water tower. The trip brought us nearly to the top of the mountain, nearly hit by lightning, and all the way down to the arid lands of Samburu National Reserve whose lifeblood – the Ewaso Ng’iro River – flows from the slopes of Mt. Kenya. The result was the film, The Water Tower, which is now available online through @outsidetelevision #outsidetvfeatures. See our film and many more great films with a free, 7-day trial at try.outsidetv.com. (see clickable link in my profile) | In this photo by @pedromcbride, I’m moving along the final summit ridge of Kenya and into a nasty lightning storm where the rocks hummed, and we were scared. #liveyouradventure

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Thanks for the welcome show, Cochise Stronghold….

Thanks for the welcome show, Cochise Stronghold. Great to be here! #liveyouradventure #cochisestronghold #sunset #amazingearth #bestmountainartists

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As the sun set from our vantage…

As the sun set from our vantage point in the Hills overlooking Tucson, Arizona, A fitting scene emerged to mark the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. In some ways, it was dismal. Rain splattered on saguaros as a multi-day winter storm marched across the desert landscape, scratching – at least short-term – our hopes of a warm rock climbing get away, with snow in the forecast for the high ramparts of Cochise Stronghold. But, sprinkled amongst the ominous storm clouds word literal and figurative rays of hope: bits of sunlight popping through the cloud, reminding me that tomorrow is another day, and this storm, too, shall pass. 2016 was a year I’m happy to see in the rear view mirror: it was one racked with geo-political turmoil and tragedy, environmental calamity, and domestic decisions that made my head spin. 2017, I’m guessing, will bring much of the same, and its onset for me is marked with uncertainty. But, as always, the rays of sun shine through. I am optimistic about the collective vibrance and vision of humanity to bring sanity to our at times insane world, so work together to solve problems big and small, and to stand up for what’s right rather than what’s the politic of the moment. I believe not in one person’s threats to make our country great again, but in our people’s ability to celebrate the greatness that has always been here, and that is represented in the myriad colors and faiths and perspectives that make us…us. This morning, up in the Catalinas, the rain still thunders down on the desert. But, already the sun is peeking through, bringing cheer to a dark and stormy morning. Let’s look to the sun in all of us, all around us, and make 2017 a year we can all celebrate. Happy New Year! #liveyouradventure #newyear #goodbye2016 #hello2017

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I didn’t know him well. In fact,…

I didn’t know him well. In fact, I only met him once and spoke with him on the phone a few times. But those brief interactions – and the many Legends and stories I had heard years prior – showed me that Dick Pownall, who sadly passed away two weeks ago, was yet another true hero of the golden age of mountaineering. A gifted and strong climber, Dick made impressive ascents early on, including the Pownall-Gilkey on the Grand Teton in 1948 and, the following year, Pownall unlocked the Pendulum Pitch high on the North Face of the Grand Teton. It was undoubtedly ascents like these that earned Dick a spot on the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition. With his strength and skill, Dick had a good chance of being on the first summit team, but in a tragic turn, Dick narrowly escaped death early on in the expedition when a massive collapse in the Khumbu Icefall – roughly where this photo was taken in 2009 – took the life of his good friend, Jake Breitenbach; Dick was buried waist deep for 30+ minutes. Dick continued to climb on the expedition and was a huge asset to the team, but did not reach the summit. Off the mountain, Dick was a soft-spoken man who, despite his accomplishments, didn’t boast or brag: he taught and mentored and gave back to his community in spades. Dick is one of many of a magical age of mountaineering who I admire hugely, knew a little, and wish I had spent more time with. He will be missed. #liveyouradventure #passingofalegend #RIP #AMEE1963

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On January 4, please tune into @nova_pbs…

On January 4, please tune into @nova_pbs to catch the latest film by @clarkliesl documenting the science, scientists, and climbers who have – over the past decade – unearthed stunning artifacts and human remains from some of the earliest settlers in the high Himalaya. I was lucky enough to help film on 2 of these expeditions, and can say with certainty the story, the science, the history, and the mystery is something you don’t want to miss. So tune in! A link is in my profile. | In this photo, Mark Aldenderfer picks through dust and debris in Rhi Rhi Cave near Chuksang, Upper Mustang, Nepal. #liveyouradventure

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The daily news bombards with stories that…

The daily news bombards with stories that assault the senses. Death and horror, climate change and extinctions, shootings and hackings and depravity of all sorts. Social media, once a welcome respite from the intensity and vitriol of life, replete instead with vapid food pics and cat videos, is now chock full of anger and fear as well. At times I must shrink away – not because I don’t want to talk, learn, and engage, but because I must retreat to recharge and reconnect with the humanity that exists in great quantity and number, but seldom makes the front page or the top of the screen. I turn to the mountains and the people who live amongst them who have – silently and vocally – taught me so much about this world. And, I turn to those who’ve inspired me from near and far, through words and actions and deeds and philosophies. It is words like this, by the Buddha, that give me hope, and make me hope more of the world will embrace them: “Radiate boundless love towards the entire world — above, below, and across — unhindered, without ill will, without enmity.” | In this photo, an elderly woman moves her mala, or prayer beads, as she chants Buddhist prayers outside Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal. #liveyouradventure

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