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January 1, 2014

Adventurer Mark Jenkins presents on ancient ski culture

Adventurer Mark Jenkins presents on ancient ski culture


National Geographic writer Mark Jenkins speaks at Central Wyoming College about his latest adventure with Asian tribesmen who access their hunting grounds on ancient-style skis Thursday, March 27.

Jenkins, a Laramie native who is a writer-in-residence at the University of Wyoming, gives a video presentation at 7 p.m. in the Health and Science Center auditorium.  It is free and open to the public.

A critically acclaimed author and journalist, Jenkins lived and hunted with the Kazakh and Tuvan tribesman deep in the Altay Mountains of central Asia. There a ski culture has survived unchanged for at least 5,000 years, Jenkins said.

The men use wide, long, curve-tipped skis hewn by axe from red spruce. With the strips of horsehair attached to the bottom of the skis, the men are able to glide smoothly over powder and "can practically climb straight up."

His program, titled "Last of the First Skiers," explores this last enclave of pre-historic skiing and its links to the modern global ski culture. Jenkins said guns are illegal in the area so the hunters must lasso their beasts, which has been depicted in local petroglyphs dating from 8000 BC.

Jenkins has been a guest at CWC several times, giving presentations on landmines in Cambodia, gorillas in Africa and crowded climb of Mount Everest. The presentations have been part an international studies statewide program.

Among hundreds of stories he has written about include the war in Eastern Congo, the loss of koalas in Australia, global warming in Greenland, and ethnic cleansing in Burma. Jenkins' writing has won numerous awards, including the Overseas Press Club Ross Award for "The Healing Fields" in 2013 and a National Magazine Award with colleague Brint Stirton for "Who Murdered the Mountain Gorillas" in 2009.

This program is part of the Global Studies Excellence Initiative and continues the World to Wyoming outreach series.


Photograph by Jonas Bendiksen