BD athlete Mike Libecki recaps his Year Of The Ox expeditions
Black Diamond athlete Mike Libecki lives for adventure climbing in distant, untrammeled lands. This past year he managed two such climbing expeditions and sent us the following recap and photos of his travels and climbs.
Year of the Ox Expeditions, a recap
What an amazing gift of reality on the expeditions for Year of the Ox in 2009! Here are some of the moments and visions from my two most recent expeditions to fantastic places that create the sweetness of life and ultimate moments of living in the “now.” These are like places right out of my daughter’s fairytale books… places that inspire ancient tales of old. In 2009 I went to two remote corners of the planet: Northwest China solo and the absolute fantasy-land of Socotra Island Yemen with my dear friend and best adventure partner, Josh Helling.
I am just back from one of the most amazing expeditions of my life: to Yemen’s Socotra Island. The island is home to ancient granite towers and over 300 endemic species of plant, animal and insect life, with a culture that has not changed its ways for thousands of years. It’s a fantasy land that, for today’s day of explorers, is still (at least it was!) virgin, unseen and holds the variable that adventure cannot exist without: Mystery. Even Sinbad the Sailor is rumored to have been there and battled huge dragon-like birds as they destroyed his ship and buried ancient and magic treasures high in the jungles. My partner Josh Helling and I were the first climbers to step foot upon this amazing island. We made it to the top of its two highest rock towers and embraced its lost-world ambiance.
When I was there, I kept thinking back to when I was a kid, hearing Tattoo on the television yelling in a strange foreign accent, “The plane, the plane," then hearing the famous host of the island, Ricardo Montebaum, announce ever so seductively, "Welcome to Fantasy Island." That is exactly what happened. Stay tuned for the full story, amazing photos that are like nothing you have seen before, and the full-length movie now in the edit room under creative manipulation. Trust me, you don't want miss the story and movie coming soon to Black Diamond's Journal. Socotra Island is the most unique place I have ever been to and I feel obligated to share this fantastic area of our planet for all to enjoy and embrace. Oh yeah, and we just got out of Yemen before the political war mayhem broke out, we narrowly escaped being taken by the locals…
Just a couple months before the intensity of Socotra Island and Yemen I headed to Northwest China, solo, to place of grand virgin summits, untouched mountain valleys and beautiful, colorful Kyrgyzstan nomads living in paradise. On my way to get there, I went through the city of Urumqi in the Xinjiang Province, and happen to land the day after the huge terror mayhem broke out between the local Chinese and Uygur people (you might have seen the news on this). An estimated 600 people were killed, many in so terribly brutal ways I would rather not mention at the moment. I witnessed intense violence, and twice on the way to my destination I was put in jail. My military permissions were canceled at the last of many military checkpoints—with the giant summits in view, laughing at me. It seemed all hope was lost, but as an optimist-addict, I knew things would work out. Soon, I found myself among some of the strangest looking mountains I have seen not only with my own eyes, but in any photo. Before long I stood on three different summits above the Shipton’s Arch near Kashgar, China.
Stay tuned for the full story, photos, and movie for both of the Year of the Ox Expeditions that are currently in the edit room. The capture of imagery and video from missions to experience mystery and mayhem is an emotional ride of joy and pain you won’t want to miss.
Death and/or old age is coming.....we must live sweet.
The time is now.
Why ration passion?
Dream big.....and climb those dreams.
After all, it is not only life, but the quality of this life.
Happy New Year! And may the Year of the Tiger Expeditions be amazing for everyone!
— Mike Libecki