We write this editorial with a heavy, if hopeful heart. This Edition, our seventeenth, will be our last. Transition looms large.
As we explained in May, sustaining Editions while paying contributors fairly has been challenging. So in June we embarked on a new storytelling journey: Adventure Ramblings, a newsletter exploring the borderlands where adventure meets social and environmental change. Alongside the Adventure Uncovered Film Festival, it means we’ll still be agitating for a more engaged, critical adventure culture.
One interesting recent example of this growing criticality is HBO’s ‘reality’ show The Climb. We spoke with climber and participant Cat Runner on his experience, what he would change, and why he appreciated how the show approached his story as a climber who happens to be trans. Warning: contains spoilers!
Cat Runner working the crux of Buttercup, Red River Gorge, KY. Photo courtesy of Max Barron (@mjbarron).
Profound personal transition often asks useful questions about society, something Meleasha Carbado explores through the lens of public nudity. She writes about riding through London as part of the World Naked Bike Ride, and on how naturism has changed her life.
The dominant transition of our time, of course, is our response to the climate crisis, and more than one piece contains clues as to how we might live through such a transformation.
Benjamin Swift tells the story of Bolivia’s Cholitas Escaladoras, Indigenous women challenging prejudicial climbing norms against the backdrop of rapidly melting Andes glaciers. And Tina Burchill writes about the transformative power of wilderness rites of passage, especially if we can bring ourselves to listen instead of ask, and be humbled instead of healed.
Elena Quispe at the top of Chacaltaya, in Benjamin Swift's piece. Photo courtesy of Laura Barriga Dávalos.
Bear Intentions has listened more than most in recent years. In October 2022, he concluded a year spent in total silence. Naturally, he then launched straight into a year of only wearing fancy dress in public. As he transitions into a third successive year of challenge, he reflects on his experiences so far.
We have much to learn by reconnecting with nature. But what might disconnection teach us? Returning to the free world after a year in jail, David Campbell asks exactly that, and attacks the folly of rejecting nature connection as a tool for rehabilitation.
And how might we better connect with nature in cities? One idea is urban hiking, which is having something of a moment. We spoke with Miles Howard, who spearheaded Boston’s new 27-mile Walking City Trail, on his vision for green cities alive with adventurous possibilities.
Transition is everywhere. As such, we’ve recently encountered countless adventure stories that felt worthy of inclusion. The result is this juicy listicle, ranging from climbing with Parkinson’s to space balloons and harrowing accounts of fleeing a home about to be engulfed by wildfire.
Transition also threads a beautiful, tangled path through all previous Editions. A string of highlights makes for a nourishing tour through the many important stories we’ve been lucky to share over the years. It includes Maxwell Ayamba’s 2020 essay on racial inequalities in outdoor access – an issue now taken much more seriously; Rosie Watson’s call to arms urging us to use Covid as a springboard for a more sustainable outdoor culture; snowboarder Meghann O’Brien speaking about how reconnecting with her Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw heritage helped reframe her relationship with snowboarding and the mountains; artist Miranda Whall explaining why she crawled through the countryside dressed as a sheep; Visionaries Director Max Girardeau outlining the task of growing a more radical culture of nature-based education; Coalition Snow CEO Jen Gurecki reflecting on building one of the industry’s boldest change-focused businesses; backyard adventurer Beau Miles talking about helping to pioneer a more locally curious adventure culture; Natalie Dunning arguing that video games offer a novel, important form of outdoor immersion; Hannah Parry’s moving, humanising account of one Sudanese refugee’s journey across Europe; author Adam Weymouth championing the role of pilgrimage in a world in crisis; filmmaker Caroline Treadway discussing her film LIGHT, which breaks the silence around eating disorders in the climbing community; and writer Dougald Hine charting how, between a time of apparent political plenty and the age of Extinction Rebellion, the meaning of travel has evolved.
Photo from Hannah Parry's piece, courtesy of Stephen F. Evans.
Thank you so, so much to every contributor, reader, collaborator, sponsor, Patreon member, and friend who has helped bring these stories to life. It’s been a fine adventure so far, and here’s to the trail ahead …
The Adventure Uncovered Team
Transition explores stories about some of the many changes guiding and emerging from adventure culture.
Read all of Transition, Edition 17 below...
Cat Runner is a transgender photographer, athlete, and community leader. Raised in Kentucky, he primarily focuses on rock climbing, which led to success on HBO's The Climb - the first televised outdoor climbing competition of its kind. In 2022, he founded the Queer Climber's Network, an organization and database focused on helping queer climbers connect with each other, instructors, educational programs, and professionals within the climbing industry. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition and works with other community organizers to implement programming that makes the climbing community more inclusive and accessible to affinity identities. He is supported by prAna, Rhino Skin Solutions, and Organic Climbing.
Meleasha Carbado is from Birmingham. She currently travels around the UK working at festivals with her lovely boyfriend Chris as part of festival venue The Magic Teapot. A naturist for over five years, she now holds the voluntary post of Equality and Diversity Officer at British Naturism. As a woman of mixed English, Jamaican and Cuban heritage, and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, fighting for equality and diversity in all spaces and having a sense of community is really important to her. Beyond naturism, she is an avid yoga fan, recently becoming a certified yoga teacher. She also loves travelling on a budget, volunteering, Lidl’s bakery section and anything arty or creative.
Benjamin Swift is a writer, filmmaker, and podcast producer currently based in La Paz, Bolivia. His stories focus around global human rights, the environment and climate change, and LGBTQIA+ themes. Benjamin is the co-host and co-creator of People Place Power, a podcast about activism around the world.
Tina Burchill trained as a wilderness vigil guide with leading mythologist Dr Martin Shaw, graduating in 2018, the same year she gained an MA in Myth and Ecology. She has continued to work under the umbrella of the School of Myth in Devon, where she is also a member of the core faculty team. She also has a small homeopathic practice (she qualified in 2005) alongside working as a consultant in event management, and writing work. Her previous career in journalism included working as a freelancer in the UK for national magazines and newspapers.
David Campbell is a writer, translator, and former antifascist political prisoner. A PEN America Writing for Justice 2021 Fellowship finalist, his writing has appeared in publications including Slate, Huffington Post, and the Appeal, and he is currently writing a book about his time on Rikers Island.
Miles Howard is an author, journalist, and trail builder based in Boston but prone to poking around other urban and backcountry spaces. He has written multiple guidebooks on New England hiking and road tripping, and his work has appeared in National Geographic, The New Republic, The Boston Globe, Yankee Magazine, and The Nation. He is the founder of the Walking City Trail, a 27-mile hiking route through Boston parks and urban forests, and he also publishes Mind The Moss: a weekly newsletter about unusual hiking in New England.