On August 5, 2019, I stood on the summit of the 7,041-meter-high Link Sar in the Karakoram Range, Pakistan, with three of my best friends, Chris Wright, Steve Swenson, and Mark Richey. Ours was the ninth expedition to attempt the peak and the first ever to reach the summit. It was an effort that required all of our collective strength and experience in the mountains—experience that totaled well over 100 years of climbing, much of which had been spent on challenging new terrain on the world’s biggest and most formidable peaks.
Standing there above the clouds, we looked out over the expanse of the Karakoram Range. The pink and orange hues of the sinking sun set ablaze the skyline of the highest and wildest mountains on the planet. The daunting 8,611-meter rocky pyramid of K2 jutted skyward. It was an awe-inspiring sight—we would tell this story for years to come. Yet it would be a story not just of exertion, elation, fear, woe, adversity, and companionship, but a story of retreating ice, warming temperatures and a changing planet.
As climbers, we have a front-row seat to the climatological changes taking place in the world around us. As we stand on mountain tops, dangle from ice climbs and look out from the chains at the tops of our sport projects, we have a special appreciation for the stunning geographies in which we play as well as a unique vantage point from which to observe the changes taking place within them. Humans have dramatically contributed to these changes through burning fossil fuels, thereby releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
Our stories are an exceptional instrument with which we can connect and reach communities beyond our own. Our tales from the crags and mountains are powerful tools that we can use to craft change in the world around us, to help convey the urgency of taking action to combat climate change now. The story of climate change affects everyone, from those living in Florida’s maritime flatlands to those in the expanse of the Alaskan Tundra. A recent report in the Lancet stated the climate crisis, if left unchecked, “will profoundly affect the health of every child alive today.”
From October 13 to 29, POW is taking the lead on this front by running a speaker series featuring Tommy Caldwell, Conrad Anker, Dani Reyes-Acosta, and many more, telling stories about the places they love to climb, the changes they have seen, and sharing their reasons for making a plan to vote. The speakers will also share stories from battleground states and communities helping to raise awareness around the power of political engagement—all in an effort to get out the vote leading up to the election on November 3.
How Do You Get Involved?
— Sign up to watch.
— Share the link.
— Make a plan to vote.
With that, I invite you to join us for these stories hosted by POW on Demio. The dates are below, along with links where you can sign up to join. Hope to see you there.
October 13 — Episode 1 – Stories from Nevada with Tommy Caldwell (5 pm MT)
October 15 — Episode 2 – Stories from Michigan with Conrad Anker and Phil Henderson (5 pm EST)
October 19 — Episode 3 – Stories from Montana with Conrad Anker and Max Lowe (5 pm MT)
October 20 — Episode 4 – Stories from Colorado with Sasha DiGiulian (5 pm MT)
October 22 — Episode 6 – Stories from Maine with Mark Richey (5 pm EST)
October 26 — Episode 7 – Mountain Guiding and Climate Change with Angela Hawse (5 pm MT)
October 27 — Episode 8 – New Hampshire with Majka Burhardt (5 pm EST)
October 28 — Episode 5 – ¡Vota/Vote! with Dani Reyes-Acosta (5 pm MT)
October 29 — Episode 9 – North Carolina with Kitty Calhoun (5 pm EST)