Harald, Maude, and the Himba: A letter to the twins

Dear Harold and Maude, I know, I’d promised new names. We will get there—we still have five weeks to come up with them. Five weeks until you launch yourselves into the outside world. Five weeks until I hold you in my arms instead of in my belly. Back before I knew I was having you, or even sure I wanted … Read More

Big Wall Science

In a former life I was a full-time climbing guide. That means I would normally know better than to introduce people to climbing for the first time on vegetated granite slabs interspersed with dirt and bush-choked chimneys. But the rules are different when you’re mission is a mash-up of scientific research, conservation action, and the establishment of the first technical … Read More

Ready, Set, Go: The Lost Mountain Takes Off

Four days from today, I meet my international team of scientists, conservation workers, climbers, filmmakers, students, and volunteers at the airport in Blantyre, Malawi. We’re heading to Mozambique; we’re heading to the Lost Mountain. All totaled, 19 people varying in age from 19 to 55, from Brazilians to South Africans, Americans to Mozambicans, with backgrounds ranging from snakes to photography, … Read More

Questioned, Additive Adventure and Conservation

This February, I gave a speech at University of Vermont. There is nothing like standing up in front of a group of intelligent, keen, and questioning undergraduate and graduate students to keep you on your toes. Like any great audience, the conversation has extended far after the event. I recently received these questions from one of the students. Her questions … Read More

Would You Join the Lost Mountain?

Three years ago I saw a photo of a rock face in Mozambique. It became an astonishing force in my life. 36 months, a 3-week reconnaissance trip, and one very special frog later I’m heading to that rock face with an eight-person team of scientists, conservationists, and climbers in October. We’re finding species new to science, we’re starting a new … Read More

Honey Without the Moon

It’s 45-degrees. The wind is at 42 mph– a certifiable gale force. The rain is going up as much as down. I’m on my honeymoon. And it’s exactly the way it should be. A tropical honeymoon was never in the cards for Peter and me. Mind you, we are in the islands– the Lofoten Islands of Norway.  Five days into … Read More

Winter Call (Summer Ski Apology)

I am not a hoarder. Or at least not of material things. But I might have to confess to being a recent hoarder of snow. And for that, I’m sorry. Today, December 11th, 2012, I took a hike in the White Mountains and watched yesterday’s thin layer of white turn to clear liquid in the span of an hour. My … Read More

Armenia Bound

In conjunction with Patagonia’s The Cleanest Line and Kate Rutherford Any climbing trip starts with a conversation. Kate and mine went something like this. Kate: “What’s your fall look like?” Majka: “October’s wide open.” Both of us: “Want to go somewhere good?” We considered Norway but were scared off by the rain; Germany was a strong contender but neither of us wanted to … Read More

The Original Risk Taker

It’s 11:00 in New Hampshire, which means it’s 10:00 in Minneapolis, which means my grandmother’s funeral has just begun. I’m not there. I’m here. I wrote her obituary and it ran in today’s Star and Tribune. It wasn’t the whole story. Actually, I’m wrong—it was. It gave a complete picture of my grandma. But I need my picture. The night … Read More