From the outset writer, mountain guide and now filmmaker Majka Burhardt admits she could have found a better place to climb. In her new movie “Waypoint Namibia” she went looking for an experience that goes beyond climbing for climbing’s sake.
“I have a theory these days that you can make adventure additive,” says Burhardt as the film opens “You can go beyond pure physical adventure and get cultural understanding out of it.”
Much of adventure over the last century has held a very tight focus on singular objectives. Summit bids to claim a first ascent of high mountain peaks most often take clear precedent over building relationships with the local population. Though on many expeditions adventurers limit their contact with native people to hiring cooks and porters Burhardt and her small team literally went out of their way to engage those they met and learn something about their civilization.
“One of the things that I tried really hard to do on this trip was to make sure everyone knew that this wasn’t going be climbing Half Dome,” she says. “So even when we went up North I said, ‘this could be just 8 days of travel to go up to northwestern Namibia.’ The great thing about the group that we had was everyone was excited about having that experience irrespective of the climbing that we found.”
In May of 2009 professional climbers Kate Rutherford and Peter Doucette traveled with Burhardt across western African to explore not only area climbing opportunities, but to discover how the native Himba people relate to their environment. Directed, filmed and edited by Chris Alstrin, with still photographs by Gabe Rogel, and music by Cheryl B. Engelhardt, Waypoint Namibia is a documentary that marks a recurring shift in the traditional paradigm of adventure storytelling. Though rich with vivid images and dramatic backdrops of exotic wild settings, Burhardt consistently reminds the viewer that here is also where the Himba live and make their homes.
But in classic rock film fashion the story unfolds to follow the team’s journey across the Namibian desert to ascend unclimbed faces of the Marienfluss Valley and set a new routes on the country’s highest peak Brandberg Mountain. Ironically though climbing was secondary to cultural exploration on this expedition, Burhardt and her team succeeded well in doing both.
The film “Waypoint Namibia” is up for The White House Project 2010 Epic Award in the Emerging Artist category. See the other nominees and cast your vote at http://thewhitehouseproject.org/epic/emerging_artist.php
Waypoint Namibia is produced by Alstrin Films
Available for purchase at www.waypointnamibia.com $14.99
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