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Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

May 16, 2023

In this episode, we talk with Majka Burhardt, a professional climber, social entrepreneur, author, mother of twins, filmmaker, and so much more. Majka has just written a new book titled, "More: Life on the Edge of Adventure and Motherhood," which is an intense and authentic memoir written in a unique style that combines letters to her children, reflections on motherhood and daughterhood, adventure, career, marriage, and so much more. 

Majka shares the story of writing "More," including the challenges of being a professional climber, digging into her family's past, and society's expectations of women pursuing a unique adventure path. She also talks about the mental health impacts of being a high-risk adventurer and how that has changed as she ages. Majka shares her journey into the outdoor field, including several pivots. She discusses the origins and purpose of the Legado Initiative, her most recent social entrepreneur project, and other organizations she has developed over the years. 

Overall, Majka's story is inspiring and thought-provoking. Her dedication to her passions and ability to create meaningful connections is remarkable. You are going to enjoy this story!

Season 16 is focused on how high-risk adventure impacts mental health and is underwritten by

Majka's bio from her website

Majka Burhardt has a passion for creating unusual connections. As a professional climber, social entrepreneur, author, mother of twins, and filmmaker Majka has spent more than two decades leading multi-stage international ventures focused on current issues of environmental and cultural significance spanning Africa, Europe, South, and North America.

Majka is the Founder and Executive Director of Legado, an international organization that helps secure Thriving Futures for both people and the places they call home. Legado originated in 2011 during a pioneering climbing and conservation research expedition to Mozambique and is supported today by some of the world’s most influential social change funders and decision-makers.

Majka is the author of More: Life at the Edge of Adventure and Motherhood (Pegasus Books '23), a Next Big Idea Club Must Read. More is an intense and emotional journey born at the confluence of motherhood, adventure, career, and marriage. Raw, candid, and galvanizing, the book is a passionate and poignant testament to the enduring power of love and our lifelong journey to understand ourselves as we strive to always pursue more.

Majka’s first book Vertical Ethiopia: Climbing Toward Possibility in the Horn of Africa (2008) was short‑listed for the Banff Book Award. Her second book, Coffee Story: Ethiopia, was released in August 2011 and featured by Starbucks in 2013, and re-released as a second edition in 2018.

 In 2010, Majka produced Waypoint Namibia and the film was featured at international film festivals and shown on NBC’s Universal Sports. Majka was nominated for an EPIC Emerging Artist Award for her work as the Executive Producer.  Her 2016 film Namuli was released to acclaim at over 50 international film festivals and across the US on PBS. Namuli tells the story of Majka’s climbing and conservation research Mount Namuli, Mozambique’s second highest mountain and a critical target for conservation in southeast Africa— and of the origins of Legado.

As a keynote speaker, Majka addresses a diverse group of organizations and companies. Her clients have included Google, Nespresso, the Commonwealth Club, Banff Film and Book Festival, Colorado Environmental Coalition, universities and colleges throughout North America, and many others.

Her work and projects have been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, Outside Magazine, The Weather Channel, NPR and many other major international media outlets. Majka’s articles have appeared in publications including Afar, Men’s Health, Skiing Magazine, Backpacker, Patagonia, Alpinist, Women’s Adventure, The Explorers Journal, and Climbing, where her column “Whipped,” ran for six years.

Concurrent with her role as Executive Director of Legado, Majka is a professional climber and ambassador with top outdoor company Patagonia. She is an American Mountain Guides Association Rock Guide and Ice Instructor and also former two-term member of the organizations’ Board of Directors. Majka is a Mulago Foundation Henry Arnhold Fellow for her work in conservation entrepreneurship, graduated from Princeton University cum laude, and received a MFA in Creative Writing from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.

Majka lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Peter Doucette, and their twin children.