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Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

- Maha Upanishad

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Athletes & Explorers

Aug 16, 2018

Jimmy Chin Drops Trailer For His Latest Film, “Free Solo”

In 2017, Alex Honnold achieved a lifelong dream and left the world gobsmacked by completing the first-ever free solo of El Capitan. Now, world-renowned photographer Jimmy Chin and award-winning documentary filmmaker Chai Vasarhelyi just announced the release of this epic feat in their latest film—“Free Solo”.

WRITTEN BY

Himraj Soin

World-renowned for its epic glacial granite, Yosemite is the mecca for rock climbers. Back in the day, few pockets of passionate climbers who looked like they belonged at Woodstock, strapped on their colourful harnesses, and started climbing the granite in fairly rudimentary ways. From John Muir’s first ascent of Cathedral Peak in 1869 to the first ascent of half dome in 1875 by George Anderson, from Robert Underhill use of pitons in the 1930s to John Salathé creating steel pitons in the 1940s, from climbing’s greatest rivalry between Warren Harding and Royal Robbins in the 1950s to Lynn Hill free climbing the Nose in a single day in the 1990s—the Valley has seen many pivotal moments in its climbing evolution. In 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson climbed the Dawn Wall on El Capitan, the hardest big wall free route in the world, garnering media attention from around the world. 

However, on June 3rd, 2017, Alex Honnold did the unimaginable. He completed the first-ever free solo of El Capitan, a 3200-foot wall in Yosemite, completing his biggest life goal. He climbed the wall in 3 hours, 56 minutes, on Freerider (5.13a). Jimmy Chin was alongside him throughout the climb, shooting his process for the upcoming National Geographic produced documentary, “Free Solo”. In A National Geographic interview, Alex said he didn’t have any real moments of doubt. “The Freeblast was still engaging for sure. And the first roof (at the start of the third pitch), I’m always a little bit tense there because you’re just starting up the route. And the Boulder Problem was the crux. That was the main thing probably.” 

“FREE SOLO follows my good friend Alex Honnold as he navigates life’s hard choices and prepares meticulously over two years to free solo El Cap, a 3200ft wall in Yosemite Valley. On June 3rd 2017, Alex achieved what we all thought was impossible. In reality, we didn’t even think it was impossible. Until Alex came along, no one was thinking about it, period. Hope you all enjoy the trailer and get out to see the film on the big screen when it releases in theaters in late September. Big shout out to the crew and particularly the best co director one could ask for (Chai Vasarhelyi) for their tireless work bringing this film to life through thick and thin over the last few years. And of course, thank you Alex for dreaming big and showing us what is possible…”, stated Jimmy Chin when he dropped a preview of the film on Instagram.  

“People will try to understand Alex and what he experienced up there, but ultimately it’s for him and him alone. It was dangerous, risky, and incomprehensible—like all things wild and beautiful.”

“Just talked to him, he’s so stoked, I’m so relieved (and I think he is too a bit).” Maury Birdwell, longtime friend of Alex’s, Executive Director of the Honnold Foundation and TOJ Advisor, wrote, “Just talked to him, he’s so stoked, I’m so relieved (and I think he is too a bit).”

Launching in theaters late September, look out for screenings here. In the meantime, follow Alex, Jimmy, and Chai.

 

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Expeditions

Nov 08, 2019

Stories From The Sahel: Trekking the Dogon Country in Mali

In the first of the series Reza Pakravan takes us to some of the best, but also toughest hiking trails in the world, climbing sand-washed mountains with the beating sun on his back.

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WRITTEN BY

Reza Pakravan

On the 31st of July, Reza Pakravan, an explorer and filmmaker, became the first person in modern history to have travelled the full length of the Sahel. A belt of land stretching across the southern boundary of the Sahara desert, the Sahel spans the width of Africa, from Senegal to Somalia, and is home to some of the harshest conditions on the planet, where the effects of climate change are most felt and rebel uprisings are common.

Like many explorers, Reza has had a fascination with Africa since he was a boy, but felt there were still vast areas of the continent we knew little about. He wanted to document these forgotten frontiers and tell the story of those who live there, whilst setting himself a new challenge.

Having made a host of incredible journeys, including cycling the Sahara (for which he holds a Guinness World Record) and the length of the planet and travelling 4000km through the Amazon, Reza felt he was ready for this latest adventure, but it turned out to be his most courageous challenge to date and stretched him both physically and mentally like never before.

Over the coming weeks, Reza will recall stories from the region. Below is the first.

Trekking in the Dogon country in Mali

“Crocodiles showed the Dogon people where to get water, which is why they are sacred and the Dogon people don’t kill them.”

The Dogon country perhaps offers some of the best hiking trails in the world, but climbing sand-washed mountains with the beating sun at the hottest time of the year was not an easy task. However, all I needed to do was turn and face the valley overlooking the orange desert, with sporadic trees dotted about, in front of me to appreciate the beauty of this forgotten land. There is no shortage of surprises in the ancient land of Dogon people. I was trekking along an old path and up and down cliffs when I came across red paintings on the rock wall. It looked like something out of a movie set. My guide showed me different paintings and told me about their meanings in Dogon mythology. For example, there were many drawings of the crocodile. Crocodiles are sacred in the Dogon country. When the Dogon people escaped Islam and found refuge in this incredibly inaccessible land to continue practising their own religion, crocodiles showed the Dogon people where to get water, which is why they are sacred and the Dogon people don’t kill them.

Crocodile is sacred in Dogon country, Dogon never kill them. They even feed crocodiles.

The villages we passed through, many of them perched on cliff tops, each had a story to tell. Upon arrival, permission from the Chief was needed before entering and we often met him in the village Toguna. A Toguna is a low-roofed structure built with stone and timber and is usually found in the centre of every Dogon village. It is where the Chief and the village elders sit and settle disputes and the low roof is made with the express purpose of forcing visitors to sit rather than stand, which helps avoid violence when discussions get heated.

Togunas: Where village elder sit and dispute gets settled.

As well as Togunas, the villages built on escarpments had mud-built granaries dotted around. The number of granaries indicated the number of women living in the village, for each woman has her own, in which she stores food for her family. Unlike the rest of Mali, women in the Dogon country are economically independent and earn and spend their own money.

Waffle house: Typical Dogon country houses.

You can follow Reza on Instagram and Twitter, or find out more information via www.rezapakravan.com

Reza’s theatre tour with the RGS begins across the UK this month and runs into 2020, whilst the new TV series will be broadcasted in the winter of 2020.

Reza would like to thank his sponsors: Sun ChlorellaEagle Creek, BodyMe vegan barsTentsile Tree TentsWildlingLeStoff

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