For the last two and a half decades, Majka Burhardt has been leading expeditions around the globe. A social entrepreneur and conservationist, her goals as a climber are set in conjunction with her focus on solving cultural and environmental issues.
Burhardt grew up ski racing in Minnesota, where she fell in love with the outdoors, and which eventually led her to climbing. “There were no climbing gyms,” she says. “So the way you got into climbing is being outside. And I loved it.” By the time she left to attend college at Princeton University, she was all-in, becoming involved in the university’s outdoor program and beginning to work for Outward Bound. She took a year off from her undergraduate studies to climb in South America, the western United States and Alaska. “I put everything towards a career of being a guide and a pro-climber while also pursuing an anthropology degree and then later a master's in creative writing,” she says. Those simultaneous pursuits eventually led to pioneering climbing and conservation research expeditions, like the one she took to Namibia in 2009.