Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins is a seasoned climber and contributing writer for National Geographic;
his story “Last of the Cave People,” ran in February 2012. His books include A Man’s Life: Dispatches From Dangerous Places; The Hard Way: Stories of Danger, Survival, and the Soul of Adventure; To Timbuktu: A Journey Down the Niger; and Off the Map: Bicycling Across Siberia

Myanmar Climb: Coda – Dispatch #12

After 8 brutally cold and windy days attempting to climb Hkakabo Razi on the Myanmar/Tibet border, the team finally called it quits and is happy to be safely back down enjoying the comforts of basecamp. Here, @renan_ozturk carefully navigates the exposed snow ridge back to high camp above the clouds. Renan, along with @coryrichards and…

Full moon reflections from 11.7. The clouds swirled and danced around the glowing rock in the sky, but never fully revealed it. #MyanmarClimb @camp4collective @thenorthface @natgeo A photo posted by taylorfreesolo (@taylorfreesolo) on Nov 11, 2014 at 11:05pm PST   Mountaineering is indubitably an unhealthy, sometimes even deadly, disease. Like malaria, once you get it,…

Read all the Myanmar Climb dispatches. Trust. More than any other sport on the planet, climbing is founded on trust. There are two reasons for this: first, consequences are life or death; second, you’re always tied to your partner. If your tennis partner blows the volley, who cares. If the tight end misses the quarterback’s…

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read Hilaree O’Neill’s first-person account of the same period of time described below, read the November 11 entry on The North Face’s expedition blog. Another one from #MyanmarClimb. Me approaching the ridge to high camp. Thanks @hilareeoneill for the photo. Still decompressing and recovering but on our way down and warmer thicker…

Photo by @renan_ozturk @camp4collective // #onassignment for the #MyanmarClimb. In the morning we set out to climb from Camp II to Camp III, an exploration into the unknown more than we expected. We ended up taking a wrong turn, which cost us 3 hours of route finding in unprotected snow and loose rock. Plan C…

Yesterday morning, the team awoke pre-dawn to gather Juniper and assemble a small Puja ceremony. A few hours later, they embarked – crossing up and over the ridge behind these prayer flags and on to Camp 1 (15,888 ft). #MyanmarClimb A photo posted by taylorfreesolo (@taylorfreesolo) on Nov 11, 2014 at 6:38pm PDT Read all the…

I wasn’t sure if it was relief to get through the jungle, or rather a new sense of intimidation and fear to see the convoluted ridge route leading up to the summit of Hkakabo Razi. The last two days the team has emerged from the palm leaves jungle, through the pine forest, and now into…

Photo @coryrichards The rugged topography of northern Myanmar has yielded a month of crushing overland travel just to arrive at basecamp. Over 30 porters have aided us in the approach to Hkakabo Razi. Today is our last day before setting up our basecamp and moving on to the next phase of this journey. On assignment…

Follow our National Geographic-The North Face team on a seven-week expedition in Myanmar (Burma) to attempt to determine the tallest peak in Southeast Asia. The adventure will take them overland by plane, train, bus, and motorbike to begin a 300-mile round-trip jungle trek across tiger reserves, into plunging gorges, over raging rivers, and through cultural…

Follow our National Geographic-The North Face team on a seven-week expedition in Myanmar (Burma) to attempt to determine the tallest peak in Southeast Asia. The adventure will take them overland by plane, train, bus, and motorbike to begin a 300-mile round-trip jungle trek across tiger reserves, into plunging gorges, over raging rivers, and through cultural…

Follow our National Geographic-The North Face team on a seven-week expedition in Myanmar (Burma) to attempt to determine the tallest peak in Southeast Asia. The adventure will take them overland by plane, train, bus, and motorbike to begin a 300-mile round-trip jungle trek across tiger reserves, into plunging gorges, over raging rivers, and through cultural…

Navigations: Tombstone White

Read Mark Jenkins’s previous “Navigations” essays. We left the moraine and crossed onto the glacier. It was speckled with black stones that had plummeted down the Matterhorn’s east face. Some were small as fists, some big as barrels, but all had fallen thousands of feet at a fatal velocity. The glacier was gravity’s missile range,…

Navigations: Laisvé

It is one of the great regrets of travel: You meet someone on a journey, come to know them intimately in just a few hours, then never see them again. You promise to keep in touch, but it seldom happens. When you return home, your own life takes over, and so does theirs, and the…

Navigations: Marooned

Read Mark Jenkins’s previous “Navigations” essays. “They escaped into the jungle,” says Marvin, lifting his paddle from the hazel water and pointing toward the tangle of verdure. “Just running and running. Not knowing where to go. Not knowing what to eat. Lost and day by day starving and cut all over from the thorns, and…

Navigations: Last Stand in Tasmania

Read Mark Jenkins’s previous “Navigations” essays. I’m crawling on my hands and knees through a labyrinth of limbs when it occurs to me that a hundred years ago, this was the haunt of the Tasmanian tiger. The striped, doglike, carnivorous marsupial would have slipped easily through this criss-crossed deadfall of myrtle, sassafras, and musk. Six…

Read Mark Jenkins’s previous “Navigations” essays. “The big day,” John said. “Yup,” I replied, rubbing my eyes. It was three in the morning. We were standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon aiming the beams of our headlamps down the South Kaibab Trail—a mule-stomped trough of glistening ice running between snowbanks. The trailhead…

Navigations: The Snowcave

Read Mark Jenkins’s previous “Navigations” essays. This is the way we imagined it, Mike and I. Our kids in the mountains together, just as we were when we were kids. We talked about it whenever we were too far from home, on expeditions, lying on our backs in the tent when we should have been…

Navigations: The Path of Apprenticeship

Read Mark Jenkins’s previous “Navigations” essays. I glide through the forest. As I sink into each turn, the powder rolls up my thighs. My skis carve crescents through the open firs, neither fast nor slow but with ease, like a looping stroke of calligraphy. This is my third ski tour in Yellowstone. Today I skied…

Navigations: Leap Year

Read Mark Jenkins’s previous “Navigations” essays At last we alighted on the south coast of Spain. A family of four from America, traipsing through the Málaga airport with overstuffed daypacks and four bulging duffels, four bulging bicycle boxes, and two sturdy computer cartons. Disheveled and greasy with the residua of transit, so exhausted that our…

Navigations: The Liberty of Silence

“Navigations,” a new column published twice a month, offers a deep dive into a great adventure story by writer Mark Jenkins. Jenkins, a seasoned climber and contributing writer to National Geographic, has been on 50 expeditions to more than 100 countries to cover adventure and geopolitical topics such as the war in the Afghanistan, climbing 8,000-meter peaks in…