March 2, 2016

Outdoor Adventures hosts talk by professional climber

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Outdoor Adventures and the Center for Civic Engagement present professional climber, author and filmmaker Majka Burhardt. As part of the Flatland Climbing Festival, she will speak on the benefits of additive adventure at 7 p.m. March 4 in the Nebraska Union Auditorium.

A pre-screening of the documentary “Namuli,” a story of how a chain of mountains in Mozambique inspired acts of leadership and legacy around the world will take place.

UNL’s Outdoor Adventures Center will host the Flatland Climbing Festival on March 5.

Burhardt first climbed at a summer camp in Minnesota when she was 5. From then on she was hooked on outdoor adventures, immersing herself in skiing, paddling and hiking. She gained her sense of independence from the outdoors, which inspired her to spend every summer growing in skills and experience in programs like NOLS and Outward Bound.

Burhardt completed her undergraduate studies at Princeton, where she joined their Outdoor Action program. She went on to be an Outward Bound instructor and then a mountain guide, as well as starting an initiative called Climb Against the Odds, a way to use climbing to raise breast cancer awareness.

“I called myself a feminist before I could even spell the word. I’ve always been interested in gender equality, so it was a natural extension to look at this disease that predominantly affects women,” Burhardt said. Since then, she has based her career around finding where climbing connects to a cause authentically.

Burhardt found this connection through her initiative LEGADO, which means “legacy” in Portuguese. LEGADO began when she was introduced to large, granite mountains in Mozambique. She instantly became intrigued from a climbing perspective and wanted to understand its story. Burhardt found that these mountains are largely understudied due to their inaccessibility; she saw climbing as the natural solution to allow scientific discovery and ecological conservation of the rock face and the surrounding mountain ecosystem.

In May 2014, Burhardt spent a month in Mozambique with a team of international biologists, climbers, conservationists and filmmakers to conduct fieldwork and develop local conservation efforts. Outside of the scientific discoveries and creation of the film “Namuli,” LEGADO is meant to start a larger dialogue about creating a sustainable future for communities with rich biodiversity.

“If I’m going to climb, I want it to matter. I always need climbing to intersect more parts of my life,” Burhardt said. “The thicker and chewier and more entrenched in it I am, the more I love it.”

Burhardt strives to view life with a wider lens, to see the bigger story and where we find ourselves it, to connect to the richness.

“When you’re in college, you’re at a really unique time in your life when your brain is firing on so many unique cylinders and wants to be so expansive,” she said. ”It’s the ideal time to integrate your passions and connect those things…It’s not about having a hobby or a job, it’s about being a real person.”

The event is free and open to the public.

A free, public reception for Burhardt is 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. March 4 at Yia Yia’s, 1423 O St.