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Volume 2, Number 3

August 2006



...to another issue of the MountainWorld Productions E-Newsletter!

Please feel free to pass this along to colleagues, family, friends, and anyone who might find it helpful and informative. You can read past newsletters in my archive:


In this issue:

  1. Quotes of the Month

  2.  Fear Itself...

  3. In Memoriam: Hans Gmoser

  4. Photo Tip of the Month:
    P a n o r a m a

  5. Gurla Mandhata Expedition - News & Blog

  6. The MountainWorld Blog

  7.  Clients, Presentations, and Travel…

  8. Contact Information

Quote of the Month


Fear... the right and necessary counterweights to that courage which urges men skyward, and protects them from self-destruction.

- Heinrich Harrer

To conquer without risk is to triumph without glory.

- el Cid

Living with the immediacy of death helps you sort out your priorities in life. It helps you to live a less trivial life.

- Sogyal Rinpoche

Fear Itself...

The Khumbu Icefall, April 14, 2002, 10:00 AM


The fear was intense. A massive avalanche had just swept past our team, roaring downhill like a freight train. We were in the middle of the Khumbu Icefall, a giant, flowing river of ice on the Southeast Ridge route of Everest. It is a horrifically dynamic place, with seracs and crevasses tumbling over one another as the entire glacier lurches downhill at an average of 3 feet per day.


Certainly not the best place to spend a lot of quality time, but there is no way around it...I had to climb onward.


And as if the avalanche was not enough to humble us and remind of what we were up against on this massive peak, then we came to the ladders...lots of ladders...spanning gaping crevasses, icy caverns 200 feet deep and 100 feet wide....In a word: FEAR.


As I took a tentative step onto the first ladder, the whole thing bounced and swayed beneath my feet. My breath caught in my throat as I gazed into the dark abyss below. If I fell off the ladder, I was done, finished, kaput. Not an encouraging thought...


But, I had walked over ladders before. Just before the trip I practiced on some in Colorado so that I would be ready to shoot images on this expedition. Those ladders were no different than the one beneath my feet...well, except for that crevasse. I came to a quick realization: It wasn't the ladder that was freezing me, scaring me, but the crevasse. I was wholly focused on the hole beneath my feet, on the space between the rungs rather than on the rungs themselves. I was focusing on the consequences of a potential failure, and could not even see the job at hand, the job I knew I could do. Once I realized that, and harnessed the focusing power of fear to focus me on success rather than on failure, I moved across the ladder with little difficulty, and actually quite a bit of fun!


Fear is an amazing emotion. Under its power, everything superfluous fades to the background. We no longer worry about that phone call we need to make, the shopping list, those new shoes. We become totally, 100% focused, honed in on the situation at hand. Unfortunately, however, our natural response to fear is to focus not on the job in front of us, but on the consequences if we fail at that job.

  • What will happen if I fall off the ladder?

  • Will that rope hold my weight?

  • Can my team get me back out?

  • Why didn't I do more on the balance beam in gym class?!

We can, however, harness that focusing power of fear and direct it to the positive, to success, rather than failure. Using fear to our advantage, we can break the job at hand down into small, manageable chunks...Take one step. Breathe one breath. One step. One breath. By using the incredible focusing power of fear to hone our energy and attention on the job in front of us, we let the fear of failure fade into the background. We are completely fixated upon success, upon taking that next step...the step we know we are capable of.


So, the next time you are faced with fear in your life, take a deep breath. Harness the fear. Let it's power focus you, see that the job is do-able, that you can indeed accomplish it.


And take that next step.


© 2006 Jake Norton/MountainWorld Productions. All Rights Reserved.



In Memoriam: Hans Gmoser (1932 - 2006)


A pioneer of the mountains, especially the Canadian Rockies, Hans Gmoser was an amazing man with an incredible list of accomplishments to his name. From pioneering ascents of Mt. Blackburn, Mt. Logan, and the mighty Wickersham Wall on Mt. McKinley, Hans was a man of the mountains.


He also developed the concept of heli-skiing, and opened the Bugaboo Lodge in 1968 and founded Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH). Hans was active throughout his life, climbing, skiing, cycling, and contributing through his energy and spirit to the mountain life.


I had the good fortune to travel with Hans and his wife, Margaret, in the south Atlantic and to South Georgia Island in 2004. Hans' youthful enthusiasm for the outdoors, climbing, and adventuring was infectious, and one of the highlights of the trip for me was listening to Hans stories of the mountains. I was honored to have been able to share some time with a great man, and can say with certainty that while he will be dearly missed, his contributions and spirit live on.


If you would like to help keep Hans' spirit and passion alive, please make a contribution in his name to the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides:

Box 8341
Canmore, AB T1W 2V1


To read more about Hans' life and his accomplishments, please visit the following:



Photo Tip of the Month...


In the mountains, I often find myself faced with a stunning scene that just cannot be captured in one frame. It is too wide, there is too much there. Using a wide angle lens would work, but wouldn't capture the scene in the same way. And, one frame would leave out too much. What to do? Shoot a panorama.

First, bring along your panorama camera, set it on a tripod...no, wait, not many of us have a panorama camera. Well, here's another solution:

Use a tripod or, if you don't have one, set your camera on a rock or other immovable surface. Make sure your lens is not so wide that it will have aberrations at the sides, as this will distort the images. Now, shoot 2 or more frames of your soon to be panorama, making sure to overlap each frame by at least 15-25%. Keep the camera's angle steady, again using your tripod or sturdy surface. Oh, and don't leave the camera on auto-exposure! Set the exposure manually so that the lighting on each frame will be the same.

Now, take your shots to your computer, load up Adobe Photoshop CS or above, and go to File>Automate>Photomerge... Select the files you just shot, select OK, and Photoshop will try to align the photos for you. If it cannot, have no fear - there is a user-friendly interface that will let you do what Photoshop could not. Try using the "Advanced Blending" and "Perspective" settings to see if they help.

Once you have arranged your images as you want them, click OK to open your panorama in Photoshop and make the final adjustments!

IMG Gurla Mandhata Expedition 2006

In less than 2 weeks, I will depart for Nepal to lead the 2006 IMG Gurla Mandhata Expedition. A massive peak in west Tibet, Gurla Mandhata is rarely seen, let alone climbed. In fact, it has had only 12 ascents since its first attempt in 1905!

I will be leading the expedition for International Mountain Guides, and will have a great team of climbers with me: Kirk Allen, Cynthia Dodson, David Golden, and Stuart Sloat. Assisting me on the trip will be a spectacular group of Nepalis, most of whom are close friends from past expeditions: Panuru Sherpa (sirdar), Pemba Sherpa (cook), Karma Rita Sherpa (climbing Sherpa), Mingma Chhiring Sherpa (climbing Sherpa), and Bal Bahadur Gharti (assistant cook).

This will be an amazing expedition, starting in remote Simikot in Humla district, West Nepal, and trekking north along the Karnali River into Tibet. From there, we'll continue north to holy Mt. Kailash, where we will do a kora, or circumambulation, of the holiest peak in the Himalaya. Next stop will be the ruins of the Guge Kingdom, remote, beautiful, and rarely visited. Finally, with good blessings and (hopefully!) good karma, we'll begin the climb of Gurla Mandhata.

We'll have an ongoing cybercast of the expedition on my new blog (see below) at mountainworld.typepad.com as well as another site. Stay tuned for that information.

The MountainWorld Blog

Well, I've finally done it...I stepped into the blogosphere. It is a strange world, and I'm not sure I understand it all, but it is fun! The MountainWorld Blog went live a few weeks ago and contains posts on topics I feel are interesting, relevant, or just plain amusing. I've also posted a selection of my favorite photos with details on how, when, where, and why they were shot. I'll continue to add postings regularly, so check back often! And, leave comments if you like, dislike, or have any thoughts on a particular post!

Happy blogging....

Clients, Presentations, and Travel… 

  • Thanks go out to my recent clients: Waddell & Reed, ING, RMD Kiwanis, American Lighting, Pike's Peak Library District, Colorado Springs School, and the University Club of Seattle.

  • Next week, I am excited to travel to Charlotte, NC, to deliver the opening address for the first assembly of the year at Charlotte Latin School. It is always a pleasure for me to speak to school audiences, and this one will be great!

  • This autumn, I will lead a group of climbers up Gurla Mandhata (AKA Naimona'nyi, 7728 meters), a remote peak in West Tibet. This will be an incredible journey, complete with a circumambulation of sacred Mount Kailash. I will send dispatches and images from the mountain to my blog.

New Sponsors...

I am proud to be working with the following companies and organizations, and thanks them for their support on current and future projects and expeditions:

Contact Information…


Jake Norton is a professional speaker, photographer, climber, and guide from Colorado. He delivers high-impact, multi-media motivational presentations to audiences worldwide, inspiring them to set lofty goals in life and giving them the tools to reach them.

Please forward this newsletter to other people who might find it helpful.

Have a question about Jake Norton or MountainWorld Productions? Please contact us at:

Jake Norton
MountainWorld Productions

American Mountaineering Center
710 Tenth Street
Golden, CO  80401

P: 303.902.7475
F: 303.496.0175

Email: info@mountainworldproductions.com

All text, formatting, code, images, and items on this website are
© 2005 Jake Norton/MountainWorld Productions. All Rights Reserved.



MountainWorld News: Inspiration from Everest and beyond by Speaker, Climber, and Photographer Jake Norton