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    Vertical Ethiopia: Climbing Toward Possibility in the Horn of Africa

    Et0126_2 Right on the heels of our time with Surf Is Where You Find It author Gerry Lopez, we have more good book news to share with you this week. Majka Burhardt, a writer, climber, mountain guide and Patagonia ambassador, just had her first book published in February. Vertical Ethiopia: Climbing Towards Possibility in the Horn of Africa documents a climbing expedition of four women to the remote and unexplored sandstone spires of northern Ethiopia. Told through a series of vignettes written by Majka, and powerful photos shot by Gabe Rogel, Vertical Ethiopia looks closely at the intersections between adventure and culture, history and opportunity.

    [Majka Burhardt on Learning the Hard Way. Tewodros Tower, Ethiopia. Photo: Gabe Rogel]

    Majka is spending the greater part of 2008 on tour for the book. Hit the jump or visit Majka's Web site for a list of book tour dates. But first, enjoy an excerpt from Vertical Ethiopia:

    Good Thievery

    “It is good to be robbed in Ethiopia,” the man says.

    “It’s good to be robbed?” I ask.

    “Yes, in Ethiopia.”

    It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, and we are sitting in a block-and-mortar room in the back of a complex that houses the local jail, court, and magistrate. The windows are simple portals through the wall, with wooden shutters and steel locks. The floor is dirt, layered with barley shoots.

    Et0272 I sigh, and then ask, “Why is it good to be robbed in Ethiopia?”

    “Where else would your possessions be returned?”

    Earlier that day, I was 60 meters into a climb when I looked down and saw a young boy going through my pack. He and his friends went through the other packs as well, and made off with money, a camera, a watch, and two pairs of sunglasses.

    [Majka waiting for a verdict in Megab court. Photo: Gabe Rogel]

    I recognized the boy when I walked into the jail compound 10 minutes ago. You can’t hide for long in this village, especially if you are wearing new, bright-blue sunglasses.

    “Don’t you agree?” the officer asks. He holds out my camera.

    I grasp it gratefully. It even still has my photos on the memory card.

    “Yes,” I say. “Definitely.” I start to put the camera back in my bag.

    The officer reaches over and takes the camera away from me.

    “So it is yours?” he says.

    “Of course.”

    He tucks it into a drawer. “Good.”

    Three different times we will have the same interaction: I will identify my camera and have it taken away shortly thereafter. I will fill out forms in a language I don’t understand. I will walk by the jail cell that holds the boys who stole from us. I will be asked to identify which boy was at my pack and which boys were at the other packs.

    Sitting on a wooden bench and leaning my head against the cool earthen wall, I worry about what will happen to the boys. We all worry. We have heard stories of disproportionate punishment in Africa. Who hasn’t? But we are in Megab, nine kilometers west of Hawzien. Everyone knows everyone here, and we are assured that everyone is fair.

    Eventually, our things will be returned—well, all but Caroline’s sunglasses. Somewhere in northern Ethiopia is a boy with white-enamel aviator glasses shielding his eyes from the sun.

    Ve_2_cover_final_for_website Vertical Ethiopia Book Tour and Slide Show

    Majka is speaking and giving slide shows around the country from February- November. Please click here for information about her shows. If you would like to schedule a show, please email mb@majkaburhardt.com. If you like what you read, you can purchase the book here.   

    April 13th, 2008:
    Books and Books, Miami, Florida
    4:00 PM
    Coral Gables Location
    Details and Directions

    April 16th, 2008:
    Kenton Firehouse, Portland, Oregon
    7:00 PM
    Brought to you by the World Affiars Council of Oregon
    Details and Directions

    April 17th, 2008:
    IMAX Theater, Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington
    6:00 PM
    "Science with a Twist"
    Event in conjunction with the World Affairs Council of Seattle and Pacific Science Center
    Details and Directions

    April 19th, 2008:
    Patagonia Store, NOLS Alumni Reunion and Public Reception, Seattle, Washington
    Patagonia Seattle
    7:00 PM
    National Outdoor Leadership School Reunion and public event
    Details and Directions. Please register here for this event.

    April 24th, 2008:
    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
    7:30 PM
    Robertson Hall, Bowl 2

    April 26th, 2008:
    Houston, Texas
    Houston World Affairs Council Young Professionals Brunch
    11:00 AM
    Details and Directions

    April 26th, 2008: 
    Houston International Fest, Houston Texas
    3:00 and 5:00 PM
    City Hall Theater
    Event in conjunction with the Houston World Affairs Council

    April 27th, 2008:
    Midwest Mountaineering and The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1:00 PM
    Target Performance Hall
    Details and Directions 

    April 30th, 2008:
    Boulder REI, Boulder, Colorado
    7:00 PM
    Event in conjunction with the American Alpine Club, the Access Fund, and the American Mountain Guides Association
    Details and Directions

    May 6th, 2008:
    Greenwich Country Day School, Greenwich, Connecticut

    May 7th, 2008:
    Cabot Auditorium, Boston, Massachusetts
    Event in conjunction with the Appalachian Mountain Club
    Details and Directions

    May 8th, 2008:
    Boston Patagonia Store Book Signing, Boston, Massachusetts
    12:00-2:00 PM
    Details and Directions

    May 8th, 2008:
    Fenway Park, NOLS Alumni Reunion and Public Reception, Boston, Massachusetts
    7:00 PM
    National Outdoor Leadership School Reunion and public event
    Details and Directions

    May 10th, 2008:
    Rock And Snow, New Paltz, New York
    8:00 PM
    Details and Directions

    May 17th, 2008:
    Chrissy Fields Center, NOLS Alumni Reunion and Public Reception, San Francisco, California
    7:00 PM
    National Outdoor Leadership School Reunion and public event
    Details and Directions

    May 25th, 2008:
    Telluride Mountain Film, Telluride, Colorado
    3:00-5:00 PM Reading Frenzy (Book Signing)
    Reading Frenzy and Chalrlie Fowler Climbing Film Award Judge
    Details and Directions

    June 14th, 2008:
    Boulder Patagonia, Boulder, Colorado
    4:30-6:30 PM
    Details and Directions

    June 19th, 2008:
    Denver Flagship REI, Denver, Colorado
    7:00 PM
    Event in conjunction with the American Alpine Club
    Details and Directions

    June 26th, 2008:
    Tattered Cover Bookstore LoDo, Denver, Colorado
    7:30 PM
    Details and Directions

    September 24th, 2008:
    Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado
    7:00 PM

    November 6th and 7th, 2008:
    Banff Mountain Book Festival, Banff Canada
    Presentation and book signing, time TBA
    Details and Directions

    Et0412

    [Photo: Gabe Rogel]

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