POWELL, Wyo. - National Geographic field staff writer Mark Jenkins lived and hunted last winter with Asian tribesmen who use skis and lassos to hunt elk. He’ll talk about his experience with the Kazakh and Tuvan tribes in a 7 p.m. program Wednesday, March 5, in Room 70 of the Fagerberg Building at Northwest College.
Jenkins will share images and insights from his time spent deep in the Altai Mountains of Central Asia in a ski culture that has survived unchanged for at least five thousand years.
Wide, long, curve-tipped skis are hewn by axe from red spruce and the bases nailed with silky horsehair. These ancient skis glide smoothly over powder and yet can climb practically straight up.
The Kazakh and Tuvan tribesmen of the region use the skis to hunt elk. Because guns are illegal, they lasso the beasts from their skis — a primordial tableau depicted in local petroglyphs dating from 8000 B.C.
In his program “Last of the First Skiers,” Jenkins explores this last enclave of prehistoric skiing, its links to the modern global ski culture, and the profound adaptability of humankind in an increasingly globalized world.
A critically acclaimed author and internationally recognized journalist, Jenkins covers geopolitics and adventure. Among hundreds of stories, he has written about landmines in Cambodia, the war in Eastern Congo, the loss of koalas in Australia, global warming in Greenland, ethnic cleansing in Burma, and climbing Mount Everest in Nepal.
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.
In addition to his work for National Geographic, Jenkins is a writer-in-residence at the University of Wyoming. His program, “Last of the First Skiers,” is part of the Global Studies Excellence Initiative and continues the World to Wyoming outreach series.
It is sponsored in Powell by the Northwest College International Studies Program, UW Global and Area Studies, UW Outreach School and Wyoming Humanities Council, with special thanks to the Ruth R. Ellbogen Foundation.
“Last of the First Skiers” is free and open to the public.