Posts Tagged ‘Namibia’

Polartec Challenge Winner Returns from Namibia with a First Ascent

June 9, 2009

_MG_1462On June 1st, Majka Burhardt, Peter Doucette, and Kate Rutherford completed Southern Crossing: a 1300-foot 5.11+, grade 5 rock climbing first ascent on the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest peak. But that’s only part of the story. There’s also a 2,000+ year-old painted giraffe, 108-degree temperatures, eight days at 15km/hour over washboard roads, scorpions, laser sharp granite cracks, crumbling granite faces, cobras, realized conservation, weathered maps, and rugged mountain passes.

Forty-two days ago, I went to Namibia expecting to climb, explore, and push my understanding of how curiosity, ambition, and adventure work vis a vis culture. I knew all of these components would come into play during the month long trip, I just didn’t know the formulation. In the north, where we’d originally planned to climb the most, our best moments came from sitting in the shade of an Acacia tree with a group of Himba women painted in red ochre and butterfat. Himba, Afrikaans, English, Spanish and Portuguese were spoken, but often hand gestures and figures drawn in the sand gained us the vital information we sought. Further south, on the Brandberg, we scraped through the dirt, bushes, and bird refuse that guarded our perspective line for three days to get to what we hoped would be a way up. Each day, we looked for a way for this country, the “easy Africa,” to give us portals to a higher stance, a greater understanding, or a smooth road. We eventually found all of them.

Stay Tuned for Words and Images From:
Majka Burhardt, writer and speaker. www.majkaburhardt.com
Gabe Rogel, photographer. www.rogelphoto.com
Chris Alstrin, filmmaker. www.alstrinfilms.com

Namibia 2009 was supported, in part by The Polartec Challenge Fund and the Mountain Grant Program of the Banff Centre, with additional support provided by Patagonia, Osprey Petzl, Outdoor Research, Clif Bar, and Scrapa.

zebras KR

gear MB

team. CA
*I share this news with a heavy heart in light of the recent news about Jonny Copp, Micah Dash, and Wade Johnson. Just over a month ago, Jonny and I high-fived a send off for our respective expeditions and promised to trade stories when we got back. As most of you know, those are stories we will now not have a chance to hear. When my father heard the news on the radio he called me and asked me one question: “How do you make sense of this in your world?” I told him the only answer I have. “I don’t.”

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Polartec Challenge winner lands in Namibia

May 13, 2009

namibia_big_mapMajka Burhardt, one of the 2009 Polartec Challenge Grant winners, has arrived in Namibia with her team of climbers, photographers and filmmakers. Majka is planning to scale some previously unclimbed,  1,000 ft.+ granite walls in Namibia as well as document one of the last great Southern African ancestral tribes, the Himba.

Did you know that Namibia has the most isolated desert roads on the African Continent? Or that it’s the second least populated country in the world? (Mongolia is the first) And that it has the most stable government in Africa? Neither did we.

Majka (pronounced Micah) will be blogging about her month-long adventure on her site. This is from one of her posts last week:

“I’ve been in Windhoek, Namibia’s capitol for 48-hours—just now longer than it took to get here. Departing Johannesburg, I had the choice to go to Gaborone, Antananarivo, Noola, Luanda, Bulawayo, Lusaka or Doha… I came here—at least here I know there’s granite. I arrived and got my rental car, and immediately got inside, on the wrong side (my right side) and sat down. I looked at the attendant. I had not been horizontal in 46 hours. I gave him a wave, got out of the car, and went to the other side.”

spitzThis week, Majka has been climbing and exploring Spitzkoppe, a a great granite mountain that rises out of the southern Africa desert.  In the next couple of days the team heads north to (hopefully) put in some first ascents.

We’re looking forward to following Majka’s adventures!

2009 Polartec Challenge Grant Recipients Announced

January 21, 2009

The annual Polartec® Challenge Grant award recipients have been announced. A total of $14,000 will be granted to three separate expeditions in 2009: a climbing and cultural expedition to Namibia, a trip to Everest to focus attention on the impact of climate change on Sherpa culture, and a climb up the Carstensz Pyramid as part of 12-year-old Jordan Romero’s quest for the Seven Summits.

The first grant recipient is climber and writer Majka Burhardt. This spring, Burhardt will lead a small team of climbers into Namibia in the heart of Africa where they will attempt a first ascent on Van Zyl, a sheer, 2,000-foot granite face. Along the way, Burhardt’s team will document and interact with the Himba, an indigenous pastoral tribe whose way of life if threatened by western influence.

Majka Burhardt

Majka Burhardt

The second grant is awarded to Himalya Alert, an expedition to Everest led by renowned Dutch adventurer and freelance writer, Bernice Notenboom. The objective of the expedition will be to report on climate change in the Himalaya and its profound impact on the Sherpa culture.

Bernice Notenboom

Bernice Notenboom

The final grant recipient is Jordan Romero from Big Bear, California who, at the age of 12, has already climbed the highest peak on five different continents. This summer, Romero intends to climb the Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, leaving only Mt. Vinson in Antarctica and Mt. Everest on his list. In his attempt to become the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits, Romero has become a role model for and mentor for other children, speaking at schools about climbing, exercise and the outdoors.

Jordan Romero

Jordan Romero

“The Polartec Challenge celebrates the cultural and environmental aspects of adventure,” states Director of Marketing, Nate Simmons. “We believe Majka will draw mainstream attention to climbing in Africa; Bernice will use her trip as a powerful vignette on the impacts of climate change; and Jordan Romero will inspire a whole new generation of mountaineers.”

In addition to the grant money, all of this year’s Polartec® Challenge winners will be fully outfitted with Polartec® garments, designed to keep them warm, comfortable and dry in the harshest of climates.

About the Polartec® Challenge Grant
The annual Polartec® Challenge Grant seeks to assist frugal, low impact teams who respect the local culture and environment and serve as role models to outdoor enthusiasts worldwide. Applications are evaluated on the basis of their vision, commitment and credibility. Past recipients of the Polartec® Challenge Grant include outdoor pioneers and adventurers such as Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, Steve House, Marko Prezelj, Andrew McLean and John Shipton.