To borrow a climbing term, 2020 was a crux for Adventure Uncovered. We published more and better pieces than ever before, taking a major step towards realising our vision of becoming a vital space for discussions connecting adventure and social and environmental change.
There have of course been more important concerns this year than climbing rocks or riding waves. But adventure plays a meaningful role in millions of people's lives. We stand by our belief that, if pursued thoughtfully, adventure can play an important role in responding to social and environmental crises - including the pandemic.
With this in mind, we're excited to announce how we plan to build on our 2020 work through 2021. In the meantime, though, this Edition celebrates our twelve favourite Adventure Uncovered pieces from 2020, in order of publication.
In June, for our UK Edition, campaigner, academic and hillwalker Maxwell Ayamba questioned the inclusivity of adventure with an in-depth, timely piece on why and how we must increase black and minority ethnic (BAME) participation in the outdoors.
In the same Edition, we published an interview with Jini Reddy, whose book Wanderland, which charts Jini's search for the Other in Britain’s landscapes, made her the first writer of colour to be shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize. Jini is a vital voice in the travel-writing landscape.
We love adventures that creatively and even literally explore social issues. When British and Polish photographer Michal Iwanowski was confronted with xenophobic graffiti and the Brexit debate, he did what only a person worth talking to would and walked from Wales to Poland armed with a camera and wicked sense of humour. We thoroughly enjoyed Michal's charming, playful approach.
Our most widely read piece of 2020 also came in June, although not in our UK Edition. Rosie Watson's rallying cry for the creation of a sustainable outdoor industry post-Covid was shared by Kílian Jornet, among others. And for good reason: Rosie outlines a number of practical steps we can take to become a better industry.
Rosie Watson, en route to Mongolia (New Story Run), searches for stories of better ways of living, working and meeting our needs in the climate crisis.
Our July Edition, on Storytellers, featured an interview with the Never Not Collective - producer of the first all-women climbing feature film, Pretty Strong. As a climbing film, Pretty Strong is progressive, but the team found the story they told about the film drew criticism from some supporters. The resulting conversation about gender, climbing and storytelling is a case study in how openness and humility can help evolve our understanding of our communities.
Our July Edition also featured a wide-ranging conversation with traditional storyteller and travel writer Nick Hunt about his work, which revolves in interesting ways around the relationship between people and landscapes. We've followed Nick's work for some time, so it was a pleasure to sit down with him.
A highlight of this year has been our conversations with artists, who often come at adventure from novel perspectives. Simon Faithfull is a fantastic example. In August he was generous enough to discuss how his fascinating, imaginative, often preposterous body of work critiques some of the classic adventure narratives by treating the world as a sculpture.
Still from 'Going Nowhere 2', Simon Faithfull.
Another comment on adventure narratives that stood out was academic Kristin Jacobson's piece about what her new book calls The American Adrenaline Narrative: the world’s dominant type of adventure today, with far-reaching implications. We need people like Kristin thinking deeply about how we tell adventure stories.
We also need new voices telling stories. One of the most candid pieces we published this year was filmmaker and adventurer Frit Sarita Tam's piece on the challenge of finding a foothold in the adventure world as a gay Chinese woman with few role models to look to. We're heartened to see her growing profile.
In September we turned our attention to the climate crisis. A piece that resonated for us was Em Hartova's eloquent argument that, if we are serious about responding to the climate crisis as a community, we must go beyond ‘outdoor issues’, and certainly beyond simply being ‘outdoorsy’.
The same Edition featured a long form interview with environmentalist and adventurer Kate Rawles. Her work spans many disciplines, and her thinking is full of insight and good advice.
Finally, our October Edition, on Adventure Activism, argued that radical businesses can be powerful changemakers. A superb example is Coalition Snow: one of the world’s only female founded and owned snowsports companies, now with a supporting podcast and magazine. We really enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation with Co-Founder Jen Gurecki.
As ever, thank you so much for reading. It's incredibly motivating to see the appetite for stories showcasing how adventure can be a force for change.
We hope you have as wonderful a holiday period as the restrictions allow, and look forward to seeing you recharged on the other side.
The Adventure Uncovered Team.
Want to help us build a more inclusive, sustainable and impactful adventure culture? Find out how you can support our work through Patreon.
Our final 2020 Edition recaps our favourite Adventure Uncovered pieces of the year, covering BAME representation in the outdoors, the first all-women climbing feature film, a rallying cry for the post-Covid outdoor industry and more.
Read all of Edition 6 below...
Maxwell Ayamba is an academic and journalist whose work focuses on environmental and racial justice. He also founded the Sheffield Environment Movement charity in 2016, to promote access and participation in the natural environment for people from black and ethnic minority communities.
Jini Reddy is a travel writer and journalist. She was born in the UK and raised in Canada to parents of Indian descent (who were raised in South Africa). Her second book, Wanderland, charts her search for the magical, unorthodox and Other in the British landscape, and was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize. Her first book, Wild Times, showcased extraordinary experiences connecting with nature around Britain, and won the book prize at the 2017 British Guild of Travel Writers Awards. In 2019 Jini was named one of National Geographic’s Women of Impact. You can learn more about her work at www.jinireddy.co.uk.
Michal Iwanowski is a documentary photographer. He grew up in Poland but has been working and living in Wales since 2001. In 2018, for Go Home Polish, he walked 1900km from his flat in Wales to his mother’s village in Poland, exploring what it means to be at home in response to the Brexit debate and some xenophobic graffiti he had seen in Wales. You can learn more about Michal’s work at www.michaliwanowski.com.
Nick Hunt is a writer, storyteller and editor whose work explores the relationship between society and landscape. He is best known for three travel books. Walking the Woods and the Water, he retraces Patrick Leigh Fermor's epic walk from Holland to Istanbul. In Where the Wild Winds Are, Nick again sets out on foot, to trace four winds shaping European landscapes and cultures. Most recently, in Outlandish, Nick travels through four unlikely European landscapes. Nick also continues to edit the journal of The Dark Mountain Project, a cultural movement in search of stories that can help us respond to the climate emergency with a 'hope beyond hope'.
Kristin J. Jacobson is a Professor of American Literature, American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Stockton University in New Jersey. Her latest book, The American Adrenaline Narrative (2020), identifies a new genre of travel and environmental literature and examines the genre’s significant tropes from an ecofeminist perspective.
Simon Faithfull is an artist whose imaginative and often amusing work spans many forms, but frequently involves journeys and creative interactions with geography. It has been described as “an attempt to understand and explore the planet as a sculptural object – to test its limits and report back from its extremities.”
Frit Sarita Tam
Frit is an adventurer and loves exploring the outdoors in as many ways as possible: climbing, hiking, skiing, cycling, paddleboarding and wild swimming. As an adventure filmmaker and photographer, she’s happiest when she also has a camera in-hand, shooting underrepresented adventure stories for her film studio, Passionfruit Pictures. She is regularly fuelled by crisps and chips.
Dr. Kate Rawles is passionate about using adventurous journeys to help raise awareness and inspire action on our most urgent environmental challenges. A former university lecturer, she now works as a freelance writer and activist. Her ‘adventure plus’ journeys include The Carbon Cycle, from Texas to Alaska by bike exploring climate change; Gyre to Gaia, a sailing journey with Pangaea Exploration exploring ocean plastic pollution; and The Life Cycle, a ride the length of the Andes on a hand-built bamboo bike exploring biodiversity loss. Kate currently lives in Cumbria with her partner Chris and Carter, a rescue dog from Spain. She is a keen sea kayaker, hillwalker and bookworm as well as a cyclist. See www.outdoorphilosophy.co.uk for more info. Kate is on Twitter and Instagram as @CarbonCycleKate.
Jen Gurecki is the founder and CEO of Coalition Snow, a women’s snowsports company designed to deconstruct the status quo. Simply stated, Coalition makes women’s skis and snowboards that don’t suck. #sisterhoodofshred She also founded Zawadisha, a social enterprise whose mission is to provide small loans to rural Kenyan women to finance their livelihoods. Zawadisha’s model is soundly pro-poor, pro-woman, and pro-environment. #investinwomen In 2018, Jen cycled across the continent of Africa, where the idea for Sisu Magazine was born. Jen serves as the Editor for Sisu, a quarterly mag whose mission is to uncover the untold stories of the outdoors. #gritandguts Jen has a master’s degree from Prescott College and dropped out of their PhD program when she realized that being a CEO was more productive than being a grad student. She’s been featured in Outside Magazine, Huck Magazine, and Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the top 50 Most Daring Entrepreneurs. She spends her evenings recording the podcast Juicy Bits and reminiscing about the time she turned down an offer from Bodie Miller to buy Coalition Snow on the television show Adventure Capitalists. Learn more at www.coalitionsnow.com, www.zawadisha.org, and www.sisumagazine.com.