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Jake Norton  Climber, speaker, photographer, filmmaker, philanthropist, and husband and father.


High in the Garhwal Himalaya, running SE-NW, is one of the region’s biggest and most important glaciers: the Gangotri. @pedromcbride, @davidcmorton, and I were near the top of this 30km glacier 4 years ago, beginning to tell the story of the Ganges River. (This clip is a segment of our film, “Holy (un)Holy River.) The Ganges, which sustains 500 million people along its 1600 mile course, erupts from the toe of the glacier at Gaumukh, or Cow’s Mouth, some 25+ km below where we were. As we trudged up the glacier, dwarfed by the towering walls of Chaukhamba, supraglacial streams roared past us on all sides, the first bits of the Ganges flowing free and pure at nearly 18,000 feet. The trouble was there should not be major supraglacial flow here, high on the glacier, well within the zone of accumulation. This should be the land of ice, of glacial might and power, but instead showed distinct signs of struggle and poor glacial health. Like most of the region, the Gangotri Glacier is in a state of sharp decline, retreating roughly 20 meters (66 feet) per year, and nearly 2km (1.2 miles) since 1935. A recent article in @guardian, (see link in profile), citing research by the journal #Nature, indicates that even with the 1.5° C target from Paris, the Hindu Kush Himalaya – which run 3,500 miles from Afghanistan to Myanmar – would see an average increase of 2.3° C, or a little over 4° F. The projected result is a 29-43% loss in the Himalayan glaciers by 2100. As the largest mass of ice outside the polar regions, the Himalayan glaciers are an incredible store of freshwater and critical to the flows of the world’s great rivers: the Ganges, Brahmaputra/Yarlung Tsang Po, Indus, Irrawaddy, and more. No, these glaciers won’t disappear completely anytime soon. But, their rapid retreat will have a major impact on all those that live downstream, altering micro-climates, river flows, agricultural production and stability, and more. May we as a nation and as humans find the courage to act and do what we can to minimize our impact and take the long view for the better of everyone. #liveyouradventure #mountainsmatter

As he gazed out on Venezuela's Lake Valencia in 1800, Alexander von Humboldt - who was born on this day in 1769 - being the amazing polymath he was, connected the myriad dots of lake level decrease, deforestation, and human induced micro-climate change, and was able to see the natural environment in which he was immersed as a vast, interconnected web...an idea that defied scientific conventions at the time. As he noted, "Everything is interaction and reciprocal." Humboldt was arguably the grandfather of much of modern​ science - Darwin likely would not have gone on the Beagle if not for Humboldt, and thus there would be no "Origin of Species" - and was a huge influence on the modern understanding of our world, environment, and need to protect it. He was a friend - and critic - of Thomas Jefferson, influenced the philosophy and writing of John Muir, and a remarkable adventurer as well, floating the Orinoco, traveling much of the Andes, and setting a world altitude record in 1802 when he reached 19,286 feet of Ecuador's Chimborazo (thought to be the highest mountain in the world at the time). But, more than anything, Humboldt was a visionary thinker, a scientist of the whole rather than the part, and while much of his writing and legacy is lost in America these days (thanks to anti-German purges post WWI), his thoughts and concepts resonate more than ever:
"The most dangerous worldviews are the worldviews of those who have never viewed the world."
"Before being free, it is necessary to be just." "...but there are no races nobler than others. All are equally destined for freedom."
"Our imagination is struck only by what is great; but the lover of natural philosophy should reflect equally on little things."
"By felling the trees which cover the tops and sides of mountains, men in all climates seem to bring upon future generations two calamities at once; want of fuel and a scarcity of water."
If you want to learn more about this amazing man, read "The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World" by Andrea Wulf. #liveyouradventure #alexandervonhumboldt | Here, Mitre Peak is reflected in tide pools at Milford Sound, New Zealand.

It's hard to believe that it was 4 years ago that @pedromcbride, @davidcmorton, and I sat in Rishikesh, India, watching the spectacle of devotion that is Ganga Aarti, and preparing for a 45-day, 1600-mile journey down the most revered and reviled river in the world. Our trip following the Ganges took us from 18,000 feet in the Garhwal Himalaya - some 20 kilometers above Gaumukh on the Gangotri Glacier - through the lower hills, across the steaming and teeming Indo-Gangetic Plains to the Bay of Bengal. Three long years later, our experiences and all we learned came together in a labor of love of a film, Holy (un)Holy River. It's been screening at a lot of festivals over the past year, and has quite a few more to come in India, Czech Republic, Austria, San Francisco, and more. Check the link in my profile, or go to
https://www.holyunholyriver.com/schedule, to learn more and maybe catch the film near you. #liveyouradventure #gangas2s #gangaaction @natgeo @eddiebauer

Floods. Fires. Harvey. Irma. Monsoon. DACA Dreamers and Rohinga massacres. Civil War and nuclear tests. Anger, division, and vitriol from the highest offices and percolating across the land. After trying to digest it all for some days, it was high time I heeded the words of John Muir: “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” They always have lessons to teach, reminders to make, statements of truth hiding in plain sight, and today was no different. As I fled the chaos, I was reminded of our global turmoil by the smoky haze inundating the landscape, blown in from acres of tragedy in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California. But through the haze emerged the lessons the mountains had to impart to me today. First, I am, you are, we are as humans but a speck in the grand scheme of the universe. We shouldn't take ourselves too seriously…we should shun our egos, find our compassion and empathy, and live each day as though it were our last…for it easily could be. And, the mountains remind me to see the wonder in small things. It's often the tiniest bits of creation which holds the most beauty. It's often those things - plant, animal, or human - that struggle to eek out their existence - clinging to a cliff and fighting for every inch - which give us the most joy, creativity, insight, and inspiration. We ignore them, we abandon them, we shun them at our own loss, and our own peril. The morning's vivid palette also reminded the world is not black and white, it is not binary, no matter how much we would be comforted by it being so. Rather, the world is truly a rainbow, a collection of infinite gradations combining their myriad hues to create the spectacular landscape that is our collective humanity. And even when things seem black and white, we can discern the same complexity in the mid-tones if we choose to look hard enough. The morning's final lesson came at the 11 mile mark with an easy trail heading down to the car… and another heading up one more peak. As always, easy was enticing. But the harder road proved the better one, over a new summit into a new valley, and opening the door to new adventures the next time. #liveyouradventure #mountainsmatter

Last week, I shared some images of artifacts I recovered from #Everest years ago, items from the pre-modern era expeditions that I rediscovered while moving my office. Many people in turn asked about video from that 2004 expedition...I have had one on YouTube for some years, but in poor quality, so finally found the best source footage I have (still not great) and re-uploaded the video I shot while exploring the "mystery" camp on the First Step of the Northeast Ridge back in 2004. It's an interesting camp, sitting on the ridge crest - above the standard climbing route - and, to me, the likely ascent route used by George Mallory and Andrew Irvine back in 1924. It later became a camp used by the Chinese in 1960 and again in 1975, and then by the French in 1981. It was a cool exploration of a bit of the Northeast Ridge seldom visited by climbers, and full of artifacts from a bygone age. This is the first minute of the video, but check the link in my profile (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3auMLZZ2KU) for the full version. #liveyouradventure @davehahn.climb

Moving an office - as I did last week - can be a chore (which it was), but a welcome one when gems come out of the woodwork. Since I was a kid, I've been a collector of old things, trash to some but treasure to me. As I packed computers and hard drives, thousands of slides and collections of books, I came upon some gems from #Everest, years past. In 2001, Brent Okita and I made an early foray high onto the Northeast Ridge - 3rd week of April if I remember - looking for the illustrious ice ax left behind by Percy Wyn Harris 68 years before (after he found the 1924 abandoned ax of Andrew Irvine). We didn't find it, but did discover some gems, like this (photo 2) complete oxygen set from the Chinese 1960 expedition, which was the first known ascent of the Everest from the north. (I returned to the spot in 2004 with Dave Hahn and recovered it.) Another office memory started in 1999, when I tripped (literally) over the iron frame of a porter's pack, pulled it up, and unearthed the 1933 Camp VII (photo 3) at about 27,500' in the Yellow Band. Trodden over by decades of climbers, it was a literal treasure trove of old climbing artifacts, including Kendal Mint Cakes, sleeping bags, tea, and this well-preserved can of Nestlé's Condensed Milk. This can was a secondary find when I returned in 2004. Fun finds and bits of Everest history! #liveyouradventure

I remember first meeting @charley.mace back in 1993. I was a freshman at Colorado College, and he was an illustrious alum back in town to share stories from his recent climb of K2. I was then - as now - awestruck at a person who could be so accomplished, and yet so humble. As the years passed, I got to know Charley a bit better, eventually sharing a rope with him on climbs in our backyard, and eventually on some bigger trips like our attempt on Everest's West Ridge. Throughout, Mace's humble, can-do attitude has shone through, a smile and a laugh at the ready whether we're dodging hail and lightning a couple pitches up in Clear Creek Canyon, sharing near misses in the Khumbu Icefall, or free forming it on a stunning day in New Zealand, like in this picture from the Remarkables. There are few people I'd rather tie in with, who I'd trust more in any situation, at any time, in any place, with the bond climbers share. Thanks, Charley, for so many good times, and here's to a Happy Birthday and many more trips around the sun! #liveyouradventure #happybirthday

There’s no celebration here. No reverence, no pageantry, ¬no false heroism. The memorials here are simple: a single, red rose atop the mass grave of some 250,000 slaughtered Rwandans; a wall with hundreds of portraits of the fallen; another wall with thousands of names, added to each year as more remains are identified; raw images of streets strewn with bodies hacked apart by Interahamwe génocidaires. The memories here are stark, harsh, punch-in-the-gut reminders of the abject horrors of hatred and the insane violence unleashed when a powerful few co-opt racial division, sow the seeds of anger, resentment, and entitlement, and allow it to flow forward in a tsunami of atrocities. There is no sanitization of the past at the Kigali Genocide Memorial; the facts of what happened here – and across Rwanda – are on frightening display, an immediate and unavoidable lesson in history and reminder of the power of humans to hate, and to forgive. As the USA is enmeshed once more in a seemingly-perpetual struggle to understand our own past (and present), and the deep scars of hatred, violence, and racial exploitation that have haunted us since day 1, my mind keeps wandering back to Rwanda. I hear President Trump lamenting the loss of statues of Robert E. Lee and others, him being "Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” Trump goes on to note: “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it.” True…we cannot change history, we cannot erase the fact that some 12.5 million Africans were shipped to the Americas between 1525 and 1866; we can’t change the fact that there were nearly 500,000 slaves in Virginia in 1860, or that 1 in 7 residents of New York State were enslaved in 1776. We cannot undo the 3,446 lynchings of blacks in the US between 1882-1968. We likewise cannot change the idolization of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson as heroes; nor can we change the simple truth that they fought to uphold, preserve, and prolong the system of slavery, or that their purported heroism is now used as a tool of white nationalism and continued racial division. (continued in comments)

It's amazing what can be found wandering the forests of Evergreen, especially during a oddly wet spell like we've had for 3 weeks. This proud Amanita Muscaria, or fly agaric, looked like something out of a cartoon, it's vivid red a stark contrast to the muted colors of the Colorado forest. Illegal in some places like Australia, A. Muscaria is a mildly poisonous and psychoactive hallucinogen with a rich history; some believe it is A. Muscaria that was the famed Soma of the ancient Hindu text, the Rig Veda. It's influenced drawings in the Smurfs, appeared in Super Mario Brothers, and is but one of many wonders to be found when we take our time, slow down, and admire what's at our feet, not just what lies above. #liveyouradventure #shotonmoment #shotbypixel

We might live on a river (aka, creek) here in Colorado, but nothing compares to the might of the St. Lawrence; it's many miles wide, discharges some 350,000 cubic feet/second of water from the Great Lakes, and often has more of the temperament of the ocean than a river. While our week there included a lot of cloud and ample deluges of rain, we still found a few stunning sunsets, forest critters, warm afternoons, dramatic skies, and some time to SUP with freighters. #liveyouradventure #stlawrence

The ancient landscape of Mustang, Nepal, is awe inspiring. Jagged canyons - carved first by glaciers and then by the mighty Kali Gandaki - etch the ruddy brown land, exposing towering bands of conglomerate and other sedimentary layers that were just slightly harder than their surroundings and survived the weathering of eons. It was in these hallmark bands of cliffs that ancient peoples, several thousand years ago, carved tombs to bury their dead, and conducted intricate, pre-Buddhist rituals to protect themselves from the undead. Who were these people who settled some 3000 years ago in one of the most inhospitable places on earth? What were their rituals and beliefs, and what of those can still be seen in Mustang today? And, what artifacts and remnants of the past still remain in these myriad, isolated tombs high in the cliffs? I've been fortunate to be able to work with @clarkliesl, @mreverest7x, and others for the past two years helping to film and tell the story of these caves and all the secrets they hold. @novapbs is sharing the film, Secrets of the Sky Tombs, for free for the next 4 weeks online. Take a look! (See link in my profile.) | In this photo, Nilgiri is seen towering over the Kali Gandaki River Valley from inside a cave near Rhi Rhi Cave outside of Chuksang, Mustang, Nepal, 2015. #liveyouradventure #skytombs

I awoke this morning thinking about our planet, and the deep need for us as a collective human community to love and protect it, and to foster that same love, appreciation, and protection in the generations to come. We can immerse ourselves in nature's immensity, as my daughter is here in Langtang, Nepal, or revel its minute complexity, lost in the insane intricacy of creation. But, if we don't experience it, we don't understand it and what we don't understand we don't value and protect. The key is getting ourselves and our kids into our natural world. The hero of @stownpodcast, John McLemore, expressed it so well: "I’ve coaxed many infirm clocks back to mellifluous life, studied projected geometry and built astrolabes, sundials, taught myself 19 century electroplating, bronzing, patination. Micromachinery, horology, learned piano. Read Poe, De Maupassant, Boccaccio, O’Connor, Welty, Hugo, Balzac, Kafka, Bataille, Gibran, as well as modern works like Mortimer, Hawking, Kunstler, Klein, Jacobi, Heinberg, Hedges, Hitchens and Rhodes. "But the best times of my life, I realize, were the times I spent in the forest and field. I’ve walked in solitude besides my own babbling creek, and wondered at the undulations, meanderings, and tiny atolls that were occasionally swept into its midst. I’ve spent time in idle palaver with Violets, Lileas, Sage, Heliopsis and Monkshood, and marveled at the mystery of Monotropa uniflora. I’ve audited the discourse of the Hickories, Oaks and Pines, even when no wind was present. I have peregrinated the woods in Winter under the watchful guard of vigilant dogs, and spent hours entranced by the exquisiteness and delicacy of tiny mosses and molds, entire forests within a few square inches." #liveyouradventure

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