Setting Off For the Lost Mountain

By Majka Burhardt

Tomorrow I head to Mozambique. Actually, that is a lie. Tomorrow I fly from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia via the Congo to Lilongwe Malawi and then to Blantyre Malawi. It’s Tuesday I head overland in Mozambique itself. I’m ready.

Mozambique. We're going to Zambezia-- in the middle

Over two years ago I came across photos of granite faces in Mozambique. I had no idea that those photos would lead me to today, November 6th 2011, packing for one of them in room 108 in the Jupiter Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is fitting that Ethiopia—the place that has given me so much unexpected adventure and even more of life from adventure—is my staging ground for this next journey.

I’m lucky on this trip to be joined by Sarah Garlick and Paul Yoo. Sarah and I have been climbing partners and friends for years but this will be our first big trip together. Paul is a filmmaker base in LA and this is the first project for the three of us as a team. We really have no idea what we’re in for. None of us would want it differently. We have the basics—an unclimbed granite face, a landscape in Mozambique that is a hotbed of biodiversity, a group of local stakeholders who care about that landscape and need it to live off of to survive and flourish.  And we have the intent to find all that we can in ourselves and in the journey.

Photo of Mt Namuli Courtesy of Renata Jagustovic

When I was a kid what I wanted most was to be an adventurer. I have just spent the past two weeks in Ethiopia leading a trip with imagine1day where we have been in and out of communities with new schools and schools about to be built. These kids here are no different. Adventure crosses cultural boarders. The anticipation of the unknown is part of it, but I think that adventure also gives us a chance to be our full selves with all of our great traits and flaws jumbled together on one path. That collage of self is intoxicating. It’s further more so when it’s an “additive adventure” — when that adventure goes beyond exploration to cultural and environmental connections that create a larger conversation of singular and collective human meaning. At eight I just wanted to go be outside and explore. Now, at 35, I want to be outside and explore and have it matter. And it is not just want anymore because I know it does matter.

I have to finish packing (see the video). I have to get all of my gear into two 50-lb bags and practice my wink to get the rest of it through the airline weight check. I have a team to meet in Malawi and a ride to catch to Mozambique. I have the unknown to find.