On June 1st, Peter Doucette, Kate Rutherford and I 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, and 1.7 meter-long cobra tracks.
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. They spoke Himba, Afrikaans, and Portuguese; we spoke English and Spanish. Hand gestures and figures drawn in the sand eventually told the story of dirt-track roads, established trails, and unexplored mountains. Further south, on the Brandberg, we scraped through the dirt, bushes, and bird refuse that guarded our prospective 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
*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.”