What This Adventure Writer and Photographer Takes on Every Trip
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Adventurer, writer, and photographer, Bruce Kirkby has spent more than two decades exploring the most remote corners of the planet.
He was here at the 2013 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival wearing a number of different hats: as an interviewer, in conversation with Everest mountaineer Apa Sherpa; as a panellist for the release of Rock, Paper, Fire, a collection of writings from Kirkby and other alumni of the Mountain and Wilderness Writing program; and as a jury member for the Banff Mountain Book Competition.
When I met up with him, he had only had three hours of sleep, but seemed to be buzzing from the adrenaline of the festival. I decided it was no time for lengthy discourse, so I opted for some quick-fire questions:
When travelling, what do you always take with you?
What are your best river, land, winter, and summer adventures?
Running the Blue Nile, Somalia; Walking across Iceland with my wife (37 days); paddling in Scorsbysund, Greenland (40 days); and visiting the Mergui Archipelago, Burma.
Who has been the most interesting adventure traveller you’ve met?
Wilfred Thesiger, the desert explorer. He was the last of the great explorers and a beautiful writer, too.
What do you consider the best form of travel?
I’m having a bit of a love affair with the horse lately. Yes, I’d have to say horse.
How long have you gone without a shower?
Somewhere between 40 and 60 days.
Best technological invention for travelling?
In terms of pre-trip research and getting information for writing, I would have to say Google. It’s extraordinary… but when I’m on a trip it would have to be lightweight gear. I can take my son and 21 days of food, a tent, three therm-a-rests and a stove and carry it all on my back. I couldn’t have done that 10 years ago.
When was the last time you took a break from technology?
It’s been way too long. I’ve got a six-month break coming up with no cell phones.
What’s your favourite dish from your travels to cook at home?
Ema Datshi – Burma’s national dish, made of red chili peppers and cheese. (The first time I made it, it nearly killed my wife!)
Are we losing the integrity of good photography with the advancement of smartphone photography?
No. I have fun with it but I always shoot my trips with a DSLR because I don’t get what I need out of an iPhone.
What do people need to do more of?
What’s your next adventure?
Next spring and summer I’m planning on taking my wife and boys to live in a monastery in Ladakh. We hope to get there travelling by container ship, train, riverboat and rickshaw.