The Lost Mountain Project

Kate Rutherford shares her insight and photos from the scientific expedition her team did on Mt. Namuli Mozambique.

Mt Mulanje, photo by Kate Rutherford

On May 25th 2014 our team of 16 climbers, scientists, and film makers all stood on top of Mt. Namuli Mozambique. It felt like a major accomplishment after the huge logistical effort, very satisfying, we were proud. As soon as we stepped off the plain with approximately 2,500 ft. of Edelweiss rope, and 35 bags of equipment, we knew we were going to have fun. We had an awesome team. Our objective was to take 3 scientists up a very remote granite mountain linking unexplored hanging forests and vegetated corners with beautiful sedge covered slabs leading to deep-water runnels.

Majka climbing on Mt Namuli, photo by Kate Rutherford
The Lost Mountain Project is a brilliant combination of conservation, science and climbing. Majka Burhardt had spent years on recon and fund raising before I jumped on board as a climber. We rallied money and gear to equip a local NGO from Mozambique to spend a week in the backcountry to do the first conservation study of the Namuli region. They worked in the community at the base of the mountain while we helped 3 scientists access the vertical face of Mt. Namuli and a neighboring inselberg (high granite peak isolated from others by arid lower land, creating unique climates and potential for divergent evolution) called Mt Mulanje in Malawi. It was fascinating to compare the inselbergs, even on a non-scientific level they were quite different.

Approaching and climbing on Mt. Mulanie, photos by Kate Rutherford

As a climber it was pretty spectacular seeing so much granite, and our head scientist Dr. Flavia Esteves (University of California Berkley, USA) was very excited about the abundance of vegetation, which would support happy ant (Formicidae) communities. Majka and I taught entomologist Flavia, herpetologist Harith Farooq (LĂșrio University, Mozambique) and entomologist Caswell Munyai (University of Venda, South Africa) how to climb and ascend ropes. It was a brutal learning curve for rock climbing, there was dirt, grass and water impeding access to much of the actual rock. It was more like high angle bushwhacking.

More about The Lost Mountain Project
The Lost Mountain Project is an international venture combining rock climbing, cliff-side scientific research, and integrated conservation planning. Led by author and professional climber Majka Burhardt, the project is being featured in a documentary film and in several youth philanthropy initiatives. Edelweiss is one of the supporting sponsors of this project.

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