Editor's Letter | The Origins Issue - March 2016
This month's long reads are all about the origins of adventure
History is full of people extolling the virtues of history. Chinese teacher Confucius urged his followers to “study the past if you would define the future". German philosopher Marx warned that if we didn’t learn history we’d be doomed to repeat it “as farce". And American chat show host Stephen Colbert said: “There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good."
The point they were all trying to make (with various degrees of seriousness) is that history is not just interesting, it’s instructive. Which is why we’ve dedicated our March issue to the idea of Origins. You can learn a lot about the world by looking at where we’ve come from. Adventurer and scientist Tim Jarvis who we interviewed this month appreciates this better than most, having spent years meticulously recreating two expeditions from the heroic age of polar exploration.
"There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good."
He wanted to understand the hardships endured by the great adventurers of the past, and in case of Douglas Mawson, prove that the explorer could have survived without needing to cannibalise the flesh of his fallen companions. Doing the journeys “as they did" taught Jarvis a lot, not just about the original explorers, but about himself.
He wasn’t the only person left awestruck by a brush with history in this month’s issue either. Photographer Dan Milner visited Ethiopia, the cradle of humanity, with a group of mountain bikers. He found himself amazed not only by the stunning landscapes of the Simien Mountains, but also by the warmth of the locals he met.
Deputy editor Stuart Kenny travelled to New Zealand where he met the 'original nutters' responsible for the revolution in mountain bike slopestyle - and watched them in action at Crankworx. Meanwhile ski writer Matt Carr teamed up with Olympian Jenny Jones and headed off to explore two lesser-known resorts in the French Alps “the old fashioned way," using touring skis and splitboards to get miles off-piste and bag some incredible powder in the process.
This issue isn’t just about looking backwards however, it’s also about celebrating people who were (or are) there at the beginning of something - those who lit a spark or started something new. Vanessa Beucher spoke to Mona Seraji, the first Middle Eastern snowboarder to compete in international freeride competitions. Jade Bremner went to Lebanon, where she met the locals creating a surf scene from scratch in the unlikeliest of environments.
Associate Editor Lou Boyd started something new of her own, learning to snowboard and igniting a new passion, while fellow Mpora staffer Jack Clayton interviewed the man who’s largely responsible for inventing slacklining as a sport.
More inspiring even than these originators though is the story told by Hakim Akbary, who spoke to our Features Editor Sam Haddad this month. A refugee from Afghanistan, Hakim is one of the first to have been resettled in Riksgransen, a ski resort in northern Sweden. Cold, wet and completely dark for six months of the year, it couldn’t be more different to his home country.
Yet despite this Hakim tells us, he’s settling in. He’s made friends, got a job, started learning the language and even has plans to learn to ski. That he’s been made to feel so welcome is testament to the kindness of the Swedes who have opened their doors to him and his countrymen. If, as we’re frequently told, the current refugee crisis is the greatest since WWII then it's heartening to hear of a community that’s obviously learned from history and is determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Marx, Confucius et al would be proud.
Of course as much as he has the Swedes to thank, Hakim’s current situation is also testament to the adventurous spirit of the man himself. Here’s someone who’s starting not just a new hobby or a new surf scene, but an entirely new life.
We hope you find his story - along with all the others in our Origins issue - interesting and instructive, but also inspirational.
Enjoy the adventure.
– Tristan, Editor-in-Chief
Keep your eyes peeled for our Money Issue, dropping next month
Head here to read the rest of Mpora’s March Origins issue.