Mountaineering

The elicitor

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Steep hairpin ahead!

The response of an organism to external stimuli varies widely. Some pray. Some curse. Some alternate between the two.

The narrow and unimproved road between the Cendere Bridge and Nemrut Dağ elicits a wide range of responses.

Put differently: the lack of guardrails means that every rocky cliff, yawning chasm, and eroded roadwash may be fully appreciated without obstruction.

Nimrut Dağ is a 7,000 foot mountain in southeastern Turkey. It is one of the highest peaks in the eastern Taurus mountains.


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Travel in Eastern Turkey is tough these days, but trips to Israel-Palestine are in full swing. We have openings right now for trip scheduled May 25 through June 4, 2019. Inclusive price out of Washington Dulles is $3,963. Other departure cities are possible. Write me at markziese@gmail.com for more information or check our full list of study-travel opportunities here.


Required reading for explorers (part 1)

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East Africa is not among the Lands of the Bible, but I can’t help but wave this paperback under your nose. National Geographic considers Felice Benuzzi’s No Picnic on Mount Kenya (1953) among the best 100 adventure stories ever written. It is certainly the most entertaining book I’ve read in a long time. It unexpectedly combines two story lines: a daring escape by three men from a WWII prison camp and their attempt to climb a 5,000-meter mountain.

The twists are many. Beyond the self-effacing humor embedded in author’s suffering and the creativity required to manufacture their own alpine gear, there is the purpose outlined from the beginning of the book: should they be successful in breaking out of the camp and making it up and down the mountain alive, they must then break back into the camp. It is a matter of honor. On the way out they left a note for the captors promising to return.

I am no spoiler: the hero at the end of this well-told story is the indomitable human spirit.

Benuzzi, far right, with friends from the prison camp. Image from    here.

Benuzzi, far right, with friends from the prison camp. Image from here.


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In addition to our usual trips to the lands of the bible (see our 2019 schedule here), I think there might be a few more mountains in our future. The invitation is always open for you to join us—either on the heights or in the depths.

Contact me at markziese@gmail.com for more details.

Frozen furls

The stratovolcano rising above the intersection of Turkey, Armenia, and Iran is known locally as Agri Dagi (Turkish, "mountain of pain"). It is more famously remembered as Mt Ararat, associated with the story of Noah's ark (Genesis 8). Getting to the summit flag at nearly 17,000' is a strenuous effort, but the view is worth it. "Little Ararat" (12,877') rises in the distance.